Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014 A Day in Annapolis...and It's Sunny!

What a crazy but fun time last night...and I know it's going to get better today!  I slept like a baby even though Chuck said it blew like stink starting at 3 am.  I never heard or felt a thing!  If we were anchored, I would have heard every creak, slap, wind, etc.

I called Rita to see if they were up to another busy and crazy day?  Why not?  I took charge for most of the day's plans.  To start, we're going to the laundromat on Maryland Street.  So we gathered up our dirty and wet clothes.  David had already lowered his dinghy and motor...I think he doesn't want to chance getting stuck at the dock again.  In fact when the lock wouldn't open last night, he started beating it on the dock cleat and then the dock.  I think he was wishing he had a rock to use!  LOL  It was funny to watch him!  It's going to be better in separate dinks today with our extra baggage that we'll be toting. We're heading over to the dock at 9 am but while I'm waiting for Chuck, the pump-out boat goes motoring past.  I got on the VHF and hailed him to come over to mooring ball #65.  We needed him bad!! It's so much easier to have the pump out machine to come to our boat and it's only $5 for this service...and a tip of course.  We caught up to Whisper at the dinghy dock.  From there we walked to the laundromat.  The suns out and it's about 70 degrees already. We haven't seen much of those temps since we got north of Titusville! So while our clothes are doing their thing, we all decide to sit outside and enjoy the weather...and people watch.  This is a great out of the way street in Annapolis with little shops and the City Dock Coffee Shop....great coffee, tea, bagels, and pastries!
Soon, we were heading back to our dinghies around 11:00 am.

Next on my agenda was to catch the public transit to the Bay Ridge Area once our clothes were stowed.  We all wanted to get our hair cut, shop at Fawcett's and West Marine, and then grocery shop. First, Chuck wanted to tie up across the river and go to Maritime Solutions to buy a zinc for our outboard.  They handle parts for Nissan motors. Chuck has been looking everywhere on our trip back to no avail, but Maritime Solutions has the part!  We told David and Rita that we'd call them once we got back to Happy Hours....and it didn't take long at all.

When I called Rita, she was very excited and told me she has some great news to tell us.  Of course, she was going to keep us in suspense until we got to shore.  She also wanted us to pack sandwiches to eat on the bench while waiting for the bus....good idea because no one was quite ready to eat.  They picked us up in their dinghy and we tied up to the dock close to the Catholic Church.  From there, it was an easy walk through the church's parking lot, down Duke of Gloucester Street over to the corner of St Mary's Street and Compromise Street...the bus stop. Okay so what's the surprise? Well, a very good friend of hers from the Cape wanted her to call her brother, Joe.  Joe and his wife, Cynthia, live on the Severn River.  They are taking the four of us to the Annapolis Yacht Club for dinner. Wow!  How nice!  None of us have ever met this couple, including Rita!!!  In the mean time, we're still waiting for the bus.  He was suppose to be here at 1:15...so I called the city transit company.  How accommodating.   They are sending a green shuttle bus just for us!  The lady bus driver even took us right to the Bay Ridge Plaza.  Normally we would have taken that green bus to the Eastport Plaza to transfer to the brown bus.

Once the bus dropped us off, we went into Great Clips and the 3 gals had no customers.  Boy are we lucky that we don't have to wait.  We have little time to do what we want because of our delayed bus ride.  After our cuts, Chuck and I high-tailed it over to Fawcett's and West Marine while Rita and David grocery shopped at the Giant.  We actually made it back to the plaza in time to hustle through the Giant before our 4 pm bus ride back to Eastport to pick up the transfer bus to Annapolis.  We convinced the bus driver to drop us off right after the Spa Creek Bridge, at Duke of Gloucester Street....back to our boats to grab our shower gear and then off to the showers.

We want to shower to make ourselves presentable at the Yacht Club when we meet Joe and Cynthia at 6 pm. To make an even longer story short, Joe called to say that he just found out we couldn't eat at the club because the Commodore's Ball was being held tonight.  He suggested we now meet at Carol's Creek.  I assured Rita that I knew where that restaurant was.  So as soon as we were ready,  we dinghied across Spa Creek to Carol's Creek only to find out that it was closed to the general public tonight.  Someone had reserved the entire restaurant for a wedding reception. In the meantime, Joe called the Boatyard and there was a 3 hour wait....forget that.  I suggested Adam's Rib in the Eastport Plaza which is about  4 blocks away....too far for Rita to walk so the 4 of us squeezed into the back of Joe's silver Mercedes.  Hot, Hot, Hot!!! It was like trying to see how many people can squeeze into a Volkswagen but better!  LOL

We all had such a great time!  Joe and Cynthia are a lovely couple, both with great sense of humors.  You would have thought we all knew each other for years instead of just a few hours!  In fact, they wished we had called them before we grabbed our mooring balls because he has 3 docks that we could have used.  They are both so gracious and generous!   During our visit, we found out that Joe is part owner of the 'American Tug' company.  The night flew by too quickly and before we knew it they delivered us right to our dinghies and we said our  'goodbyes' and  'thanks'.

Friday, April 25, 2014 We're Going to One of My Favorite Cities...Annapolis, MD!

We want to get another early start from Solomons to Annapolis.  Rains are expected by 5 pm and with rain, comes wind!  We’d like to be secure on a mooring ball before then!  We calculated a 50 mile run up the bay with southerly winds.  Nice….Now when we checked the weather, thunderstorms are predicted for 4 pm.  Hope the weather guru’s are wrong… please be wrong, please be wrong….that’s my mantra for today!

Merriott Hotel
Spa Creek Draw Bridge-narrow
We had a very nice day on the Bay.  In fact, we got to Spa Creek earlier than anticipated.  We decided to get a mooring ball up Spa Creek, past the Spa Creek Draw Bridge.  There is more wind protection up the creek, but the disadvantage is that it's further away from the harbor master's building where the shower facilities are.  That’s okay because we can pick and choose when to venture in to shower but we can’t control the wind.   I hailed the Spa Creek Draw Tender for an opening and the tender was prompt with his opening, as soon as Whisper motored up close to us.  The bridge is pretty much on request until May 1st. 

Chuck motored over to a ball.  I grabbed ball #65 but when I snagged it and tried to pulled the rope up, it was zip tied in a coil.  What the heck?  Chuck came up to help and I ran back to call the dockmaster to see if we can even use these balls.  He said to cut the ties and explained that they tie the ropes to keep them from hanging in the creek and possibly freezing over the winter.  Chuck shouted over to warn Whisper and pointed out a mooring ball whose rope was free.  It seems like we are ahead of the majority of sailboats that will be heading north!  No one’s moored on these balls since last fall!!  But all is good and we are protected by a narrow river with trees and condos or houses along the shores…good wind blockage!
Before we had the chance to motor in to pay for 2 nights on our mooring balls, the city boat came around to collect our info and money.  As soon as the boat left, we picked Rita and David up and went into the harbormaster’s building for a hot shower.  Hot showers, on shore, are one of the greatest pleasures when cruising…much better than the birdbaths be take onboard trying to save water! LOL  Since Rita and David have never been to Annapolis…I can’t believe it…we walked to Pusser’s so they could experience a Painkiller!!!  We should have stayed for a second.  Why?  When we got back to our dinghy, it started to sprinkle. So we all donned our foul weather gear.   While I was trying to unlock our combination lock, it started to rain.  Help!  I can’t get the lock open after multiple tries.  David tried.  Rita tried.  Chuck tried.  Now it’s raining harder and harder…  Yikes the rain is cold!!! Chuck took off to who- knows-where while the three of us got out of the dinghy and found a porch roof to stand under.  We're lucky the owners didn't call the cops.  It didn't look like anyone was home, so that was a good thing.  Finally  Chuck came back with one of the young guys from the dockmaster's building.  He cut our lock with bolt cutters!!  We’ve traveled over 3000+ nautical miles and this lock has never failed to open…until tonight!  Okay, so we’re already drenched but let me tell you that the person sitting in the front of the dinghy is going to get even wetter…..yup, it’s me.  We took a wave over the front that came up and went down the inside of the back of my blue jeans.  Burrrr!!  Boy was that a rude awaking!!!  One thing for sure, Rita and David are always going to remember their visit to Annapolis!! Ha Ha.  Once we got in our enclosed cockpit, I stripped and ran below to get into some dry clothes.  So much for the hot fresh water bath but what an exciting night.  We laughed about it every time we got splashed by a wave on our not-fast-enough ride back to our boats

By now,  Chuck and I definitely need something hot to eat.  I heated up some chili on the stove.  It tasted so good and it warmed us up!  Then, about 7 pm, I took a chill and decided to get under the down comforter and read….that was it for me for the night...

Thursday, April 24, 2014 Should We Move to Solomons?

still ripples from the high winds
We were going to pull up our anchors at 8 am until David called and said  Weather NOAA is still calling for small craft warnings until 10 am.  Chuck and I trust Windfinder  and they weren't showing the warning at all.  So we mutually agreed to leave at 9:00.  It's going to take us probably an hour to get out to the bay by the time we cruise down Cockrell Creek into Ingram Bay and then out into the Chesapeake. Our major concern today is our passage across the mouth of the Potomac River.  We've been warned by boaters that whenever there is a strong northerly wind, the waters along this 10 mile stretch could get 10 foot waves.  We have NW winds, gusting up to 15, but the afternoon is suppose to calm down.  So, we decided to take a chance anyway.  We  got into 5 and 6 footers.  Hey, we thought we were on Lake Erie! In the beginning we were able to keep our head sail full which helped pull us through the waves. Then the winds shifted and we had to furl our sail and just push on, knowing that we'd be out of our misery in 2 hours.  LOL.  At one point, I think all four of us thought maybe we had made the wrong call about moving today. Water was crashing over the bow of our boat.  At  one point Chuck saw water gush in through one of our hatches.  No way!  At least we're better off than Whisper because they only have a dodger for protection.  David found out later, that they had water flowing in through the v-berth hatch...above his bed!!  As soon as we got behind the point of land on the north shore of the mouth of the Potomac, the water flattened and the sun decided to shine down on us!  What a super cruise from there until we reached our anchorage at Soloman Islands.
check this dinghy out for the fishing trawler
Point No Point Light
Rita and David missed the entire Chesapeake on their way south. Keith their buddy boat, sv/Rising Sun, took them outside from Cape May to Norfolk.  So, I think they are enjoying the stops we've made...so far.  As we approached the Patuxent River, we started to see aircraft activity.  There is a naval airbase on the south side of the river.  We were buzzed by a jet, a cargo plane practicing landing and takeoff, helicopters, and a heli-plane.  What a busy place.  I forgot to tell David and Rita that it might be a little noisy at this anchorage until dark!  Hopefully they don't mind.  They really enjoyed seeing all the sailboats docked in the marinas along Soloman's Back Creek on our journey to our anchorage.
two cute Lord Nelson Tugs
Thistle & Victory
Once we found our perfect anchorage way up the river beside the Holiday Inn, we all took a few minutes to relax and enjoy the tranquil setting.  I had told Rita about this little pizza and sub shop close by that made mouth-watering pizza....called Jerry's.  They were game to get off their boat for awhile but wanted us to pick them up.  Their dinghy is on their  deck and not quite so easy to lower.  We picked them up and water taxied over to the Holiday's dinghy dock.  They charge $2 to tie up there but  we lucked out because no one was policing the dock.  Oh well, they got some of money last fall!  After a short walk out to the little plaza, we were ordering pizza and salads.  The pizza was even better than Chuck and I remembered.  Rita and David were amazed with their food for such a little pizza shop. This pizza has been one of the best that we've eaten on our trip!!

Back to our boats to turn our anchor light on and prep for tomorrows early start.  Heading to Annapolis, trying to beat the rain.....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Another Day and Night in Reedville

The winds were to gust up to 28 mph last night.  That's why we went so far up into the Cockrell Creek...to get better protection. As it turned out, ti was pretty calm.  Starting at 8 am, we got slammed with a 30+ mph gust.  Wow!  Let's hope we set out anchor good!  I sure wish we were at a dock about now. Unfortunately of  us, these winds are going to blow all day and into the night.  It still is a beautiful sunny, cool day!
anchored in front of this scene

beautiful house on Cockrell Ck
Rita's cousin, Dolly, was driving 2 hours over from Manassa, Va to visit for the second time on our trip.  She invited Chuck and I to go with them to the store and lunch but we felt we should stay on the boat to make sure she doesn't start to drag anchor.  So far, so good.  So the two of us had a lazy day of reading and snoozing until we couldn't stand it anymore!! Around 4:30 we lowered the dinghy and motored over to the Crazy Crab Restaurant.  We ate there in the fall and really enjoy the food, atmosphere, and people.  Oh no, it's closed.  :(  Since our dinghy was already tied at their dinghy dock, we left it there and went on a much needed walk to stretch our legs.   We walked the one street of Reedville, up one side and down the other.  There is a watermen's museum along this stretch.  We heard that it's fabulous for such a small community.  Of course it was closed also but we walked around the grounds and out on their dock where they had 2 working boats in the water on display.  One was a skipjack! We passed the second restaurant in town, Tommy's, but it's only opened from Thursday to Sunday.  Go figure!!

On our way back to Happy Hours II, we decided to dinghy over to Whisper.   They weren't back from their outing yet so from there we continued our sight-seeing tour up Broad Creek.  These creeks are so scenic. The houses are very well maintained with manicured lawns extending down to the creek.  Many of these homes have stacks of crab traps either in their yard or on their dock so crabbing must be profitable.

It's 9 pm and the gusters are back.  I hope the winds settle down soon.  I would like a good night sleep!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 On to Reedville, VA

Happy Birthday Chuck!

aircraft carrier on the river
This is going to be a good day.  We shoved off the bulkhead a little before 6:30 am.  I know we were ready to get moving.  We’ve stayed stagnant for 7 days.  The longest that we’ve been weathered in on the entire trip!  We had little activity with barges or freighters going up the Elizabeth River.  We did see one tug pushing a barge coming at us and a freighter that we weren’t sure what he was doing.  Here, two tugs were helping guide him while he was backing into one of the Norfolk terminals.  Of course the patrol boats were out doing their thing…back and forth…in front of the naval ships warning boaters not to get too close.  

It took us a little less than 2 hours from our dock in Portsmouth to the Thimble Shoal Light just ouside of the Hampton Roads Inlet.  From there, we turned to port and headed north up into the Chesapeake Bay. We had a great ride motoring out the river into the bay area because the tide and currents were going out.  We were cruising at 8.4 kph which is equivalent to approximately 9.2 mph! Wow, we almost feel as though we are speeding!  Once we turn north, the tide will be against us until 9:55 am.  Then it turns and will be coming back into the bay. Once we make our turn at the Thimble Shoal Light, we pop our head sail to give us a little extra boost.   At this point, we're not sure where we'll spend the night....Mobjack Bay is a bit too close....maybe Fishing Bay, or Jackson Creek, or Fleets Bay.  We definitely want to go as far as we can to make up for  lost                                                 time!  

Motor-sailing along pass the mouth of the York River, we can see 6 freighters off in the haze. They are anchored along the eastern shore waiting for a change in the tide.   Looking at them across the bay, they look huge! The captains are on the VHF, chatting with each other to pass the time....and complaining about the low water.  

Reedville in the evening
The winds are from the south.  Yeah, this is what we've been waiting for,  for the past 7 days.  I don't think the south breezes are going to last more than today from the weather reports.  But we'll take the favorable winds while we can!  So, we'll keep pushing, passing one good anchorage after another.  We still have quite a bit of daylight left, so I called Whisper to see if they are agreeable about going as far as Reedville, Va.  We stayed here in the fall so we know this is a great place to duck in out of the wind....and we know the winds are coming late tonight and continuing throughout tomorrow.  Once we made it down Cockrell Creek pass the Menhaden Fish Plant and on to Broad Creek, we dropped out anchor.  David and Rita followed suit, but had a difficult time setting their anchor. They tried 3 times.  Finally a property owner started yelling at David telling him how to anchor in the muck. The guy then yelled and told David to bring his boat over and use his empty dock.  Some people have all the luck....75 miles and a 12 hour day.

Monday, April 21, 2014 Our Last Day in Portsmouth, VA!

Our 2 boats in our basin!
We are so anxious to leave this cute little historic town of Portsmouth. Not that we don't like the town.  We do but enoughs, enough!   Now, there are small craft warnings up until 10 am today.  We all agreed that Tuesday is our day to head north.  They are predicting S to SW winds tomorrow…it’s about time!
Looking at Norfolk from our High Street Basin
We decided to do something productive today.  So, we took our dirty clothes to Tidewater Marina this morning.  We tried to find a public laundromat and there wasn't one within walking distance. The gal at the visitor center said to call Tidewater.  They have 3 washers and 4 dryers…$1.50 each and anybody can use them.  Three loads washed and 3 loads dried and we’re heading back to the Happy Hours.

Rita wanted to try ‘Thumpers’ for lunch. They have the same menu as the Elizabeth City ‘Thumpers’.  Hopefully the food is of the same quality!  They also  have a  ‘Thumpers’ in Nags Head on the beach…cool…I'd  like to try that restaurant also but as the song goes…2 out of 3 ain't bad!   LOL  I had a chicken wrap and salad and Chuck had a roast beef sandwich and fries…good food.   Rita tried their fish tacos.  She said they were to die for.  David had a hamburger….he’s being Chuck today and not trying anything new!
Fresnel lens along the river walk
wooden boat at Ocean Marina
huge prop
We walked back to our boats.  David and Rita got back on Whisper for some R&R time…reading and resting.  Chuck and I walked around our basin and south along the river walk to the Ocean Marina, The Pavilion, and then to a day park commemorating the shipyards of the Portsmouth-Norfolk area.  They had huge propellers, guns, and part of a submarine on display.  It was a sunny but brisk walk.  

Pass House
We then circled back to High Street and walked some streets with the historic houses.  One was called the ‘Pass House’ because it was used by the Union forces to give out passes to people if they wanted to leave Portsmouth.  Later in the afternoon, David and Rita came over with their charts.  We have various anchorages picked out that we can stop at depending on the distance we  travel tomorrow…

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20,2014 Happy Easter from Portsmouth, VA

Happy Easter to our family and friends!

We had a very nice Easter meal with Rita and David on sv/Whisper.   Our gathering started with wine and appetizers while listening to soothing music.  We had roast beef on the grill, corn, mash potatoes, and gravy.  Dessert is Chuck's grandmother's Sour Cream Coffee Cake that I made.  It definitely is going to be an Easter that we will always remember!

The four of us then walked to Roger Brown's to check out the weather for tomorrow.  We thought we'd be able to take off but it looks like we'll be in Portsmouth for another day and night......

Once again, Happy Easter!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014 Let's Go to the Commodore Theatre in Portsmouth!

Another miserable day out.  We definitely need something to do to break up this dreary day.  It's cold in the boat...less than 60 degrees.  While the Buddy Burner is warming the main salon, Rita and I are on the cell planning our afternoon.  We are going to the Commodore Theatre for the 2:00 matinee.  This theater isn't like any theater that we know....they serve meals!

tables in front of us
our table and chairs
We got there at 12:45 to get in line early to buy our admittance tickets and pick out a good table.  If you pay cash, they take $1 off per ticket!  This 1945 theater has been refurbished by a local guy.  They took out all of the traditional seats and replaced them with small tables and armed-cushioned chairs.  The tables are arranged for either 2 or 4 people, have a low lit lamp and telephone.    Once escorted to our table and seats, our waiter gave us each a menu and explained that we had to order our meals and drinks by phone.  Wow, it's unbelievable!   This isn't just a theater....it's an EXPERIENCE!  The prices on the menu are very reasonable and the food is very good.  In fact, Robert the Deep Creek Lock & Bridge tender told us we had to visit the Commodore and order the nacho plate with pulled pork.  We shared the nachos and they were just as delicious as Robert said...then we each ordered sandwiches.  We finished eating our food in time for the show to start.....'Transcendence' with Johnny Depp. This movie was much better than 'Noah'!  
our waiter
After the show, we walked outside and the sun was shining.  It wasn't long before the clouds took over and we were back to a gloomy day.  We stopped at the Dollar General again and then headed home.  I had invited Rita and David over to our boat for Chili but no one was hungry nor did we want to go back out into the cold.  It turned out to be a nice quiet night and the down comforter called my name very early.....

Friday, April 18, 2014 Still in Portsmouth

statue honoring soldiers
old courthouse on walk

Rita called bright and early this morning.  While at the Kitchen Koop yesterday afternoon, she purchased two stainless coffee mugs...one for her and the other for David.  David didn't want his. So, she wanted to see if I would walk with her to the store to return the mug....as soon as the temps warm up.  Well, that's not going to happen.  The high today is 49 degrees!!  As it turned out, all four of us decided to walk to the corner Coffee Shop for some HOT coffee or tea and a bite to eat.  They have bagels, muffins, scones, and breakfast sandwiches.  It's a neat little place but nice and cozy.  After sitting around passing some time, the guys headed back to the boats and Rita and I continued on to the Koop only to find out that the store only gives even exchanges.  What a bummer.  Two bottles of wine later, we also headed back to our sailboats to get out of this wind!!
in front of bike shop
Chuck was waiting for me to move Happy Hours II over to the North River Basin to pump our holding tank out.  This basin is very similar to the one we're in but it has the free pump out station and a spigot for water. We definitely are going to take advantage of both.  David helped us with our lines and met us over at the dock.  Whoever designed that dock, ought to be shot!  It is so tiny with  little room to maneuver our boat up to the pilings to tie up. Plus, they have one of the public ferries docked close making it even more difficult to squeeze near the dock.  Chuck was very persistent and after a few tries and David's help, we were tied nice and secure.  Dave then headed back to his boat to make sure no one took our spot.  It was much easier to get off the pump out dock and back out into the raging Elizabeth River to our bulkhead.  Yeah we made it back without any problems.

Great!  Chuck just dropped our hose nozzle into the water beside our boat.  Guess what?  It doesn't float!  We set off walking from one end of town to the other looking for a hardware store. There aren't any near by.  We even checked out the Dollar General Store and the Drug Store. Nope!  We did get the chance to check out  all the neat restaurants in town and even found a 'Thumpers'.  It is the same bar and grill that we've eaten at in Elizabeth City, NC.  They have some good food.   When we got back to our boat, Rod the custodian form the condos stopped over to chat.  He's become our 'local' friend.  Before we knew it, he left and came back with a nozzle and gasket for  Chuck.  These Southerners are so ready and willing to help out!

We all decided tonight is going to be pizza night!  But before we can go, Mike the Mechanic is coming to install the new transmission  in sv/Whisper. He was suppose to arrive around noon but then the time kept getting pushed back.  He didn't get to their boat until about 4:00   So we are all crossing our fingers that everything goes smoothly and it takes care of  David's boat problems.  Rita called at 7:00 to say the transmission was completely installed and they were ready for pizza.  We are walking to Segundo's which is about 4 blocks away from our boats.  We are so hungry!!  The pizza was so good but maybe it tasted scrumptious because we were so hungry!   It was also warm in the restaurant so we all enjoyed out night out!!  I so love heat these days!!

It is so easy to see that David and Rita are so relieved about the replacement of the transmission.  They said that when they ran the engine it sounded so much better.  We are all getting anxious to move north, but the weather just doesn't want to cooperate! It actually feels colder today than yesterday.  Tomorrow is suppose to stay the same temps but rain. What's wrong with this picture?  This is the south!  Where's the warm weather????

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014 Happy Birthday Chrissie from Portsmouth, VA

Happy Birthday to our daughter, Chrissie!  Wow, do I feel old!!
Chuck decided to pour our two 5 gal cans of diesel into the the boat.  We really have nothing else planned for today!  He's then going to walk the cans over to Tidewater Marina and fill them.  This way whenever we're ready to take off, we don't have to waste time pulling into the marina to get fuel.  Sounds like a great plan.  In fact, David did the same thing on Tuesday.  The boat took the 10 gallons.  We borrowed David's carrier-on-wheels and took off for the marina...4 blocks away.

Seaboard Railroad Bldg
Only one fuel can will fit into the carrier so while I pulled, Chuck carried the 2nd can....40+ pounds. Ugh!  When we got back to the boat,  Chuck emptied another 5 gallons into the boat. Happy Hours was  thirsty today but only took 15 gallons.  We both walked to Tidewater to fill the empty diesel and back.  Now we have a full tank with the 10 extra gallons on the deck...ready for our trip up the Chesapeake whenever the weather decides it's going to cooperate.  The only other job we need to do is empty our holding tank and fill our water tank.  We're not really sure when that will happen!

China Garden
All the while we were fooling around with the fuel, Rita and David waited for us so we can go to the China Garden Restaurant for lunch.   When we got there, they weren't busy and their buffett didn't have much food in any of their hot trays.  The cook assured us that he would make us anything we wanted and it would be included in the $6.60 buffett.  That's pretty interesting.  So I  asked him could he make Moo Goo Gai Pan?  He did and it was good and hot.  I don't think any of us left that place hungry!  After eating, we decided to walk and explore the stores on High Street. We found a cute boutique and then we moved on to the Kitchen Koop....kitchen gadgets. Before we got back on the boat, we walked over to the waterfront store, Skipjack.  If you're looking for something nautical, this is the place...both old and new!

Back to HH II...Chuck and I decided to read in our greenhouse.  Even though the winds were cold, the sun really warmed our cockpit to a nice temp and our side panels cut the wind. It only got into the high 40's all day but we were quite comfortable until the sun started to set.  We finally had to move into the cabin.  We both decided that tonight would be hot tomato soup to warm our insides and the Buddy Burner to warm the cabin.  The Buddy Burner does a great job of warming the main salon until we hit the down comforter!   Once in bed, I couldn't sleep.  The lines kept stretching and making creeking noises.  I even got up late to take a peek at the docks.  Holy smokes...the water is up above the docks...again.  These high lunar tides along with the wind driven tides need to settle down or I'm never going to sleep well!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Portsmouth VA-3rd Night

David got great news first thing this morning.  They are shipping a new transmission!!  Yeah!  It probably won’t get installed until Friday. That's good, they want to travel with us up the Chesapeake.  By the looks of things, we’ll still be in Portsmouth through Sunday because of the weather forecast.  At least it’s suppose to be dry but gusty and in the upper 40’s.  These north winds are just brutal!  Our plan for the day is to hitch a ride with Rita’s cousin Dolly.  She lives in Manassas, VA and is going to drive 4 hours to where we are.   She volunteered to take the four of us anywhere we needed to go by car….so nice of her!  Dolly’s ETA is for 1:30 so that leaves us time to go to Roger Brown’s for lunch with our charts and I-Pads to discuss our next destination.  Rita needs some instruction on the I-Pad with the Active Captain Overlay. 

I got off our boat an hour before high tide because we weren't sure if we’d have exceptionally high water again.  David, Rita, Chuck, and I walked toward the restaurant but since it was still early, we stopped at the corner coffee shop for David.  We all ended up getting hot coffee or tea and sat around and talked for awhile. Then around 11:30 am, we walked a few store fronts up the road to Roger Brown’s.   The hostess gave us a big booth so we could spread our charts out.  We figured if the head winds and waves continue out of the North, we’d only be able to cruise 35 miles.  That will put us at the East River off the Mobjack Bay for our next stop.  While at the restaurant, we got to meet the owner, NFL player, Roger Brown.  He told me he played for the Detroit Lions and the LA Rams. In the BC…Before Cash!!  Ha HA!  He has a great sense of humor.

From there, we shopped at the Dollar General still trying to waste time before Dolly arrives.  This store is very convenient, within walking distance of our boat,  and has canned goods, bread, milk, and eggs…just in case we run out!  Soon it’s approaching 1:30 and we need to head back to our boats to flag Dolly down.  She took us to the Harry Teeter grocery store and then to Wal-Mart. We were also planning on doing dinner with Dolly but now we have time to spare.  So, we got the brilliant idea to go to the movies at the Commodore Theatre. Unfortunately, we missed the afternoon showing of ‘Noah’.  What to do?  Dolly checked online and found a theatre showing ‘Noah’ over in Norfolk and we have time to make it before dinner.  We all went except David.  I think he wanted some solo time because he’s still stressed about his transmission  So, the four of us went….Dolly, Rita, Chuck, and me.   Russell Crowe  and Jennifer Connelly starred in ‘Noah’…it was just okay.   Once back in Dolly’s car, Rita called David to tell him he could start to walk to Lobscouser Restaurant.   He had a table reserved by the time we walked in the door.   It was so nice to spend some time with Rita’s cousin.  They wanted her to stay but she drove the 4 hours back to her house.  

Back to the boat and bed!  The down comforter is so warm and cosy!! I think we’ll be using this comforter for the next week…….:(

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Portsmouth, VA

What a day this turns out to be! 

It’s suppose to be nasty today.  Rain.  Thunderstorms. High winds.  So we are planning on staying put at this free , High Street Landing, in Portsmouth for 3 nights….that’s suppose to be the limit a boat can stay.   We haven’t seen another boat come in, so I’m sure if we need to stay longer no one’s going to say a thing!

Portsmouth Light Ship
Once we got up and moving, we grabbed our foul weather jackets and decided we needed to walk.  We stopped at the Visitors’ Center, saw the Portsmouth Light Ship, walked around the North Street Landing, and continued over to the Tidewater Marina.   Tidewater is a large marina with a nice marine store.  We've discovered that many of these marinas order their merchandise from West Marine.  When lunch time came, we headed back to the boat…and the rains came…hard…on and off all day!  Yuck!!
North Street Landing-free bulkhead
Rita invited us over to eat this evening.  She and David had met a couple yesterday afternoon while they were admiring Whisper.   The four of them ended up doing lunch together at Roger Brown’s and Kathy and Dan bought them their lunch!   Do you believe it?  They were complete strangers!!  So many of the people we have met along our journeys have been so nice and hospitable.  So, Rita wanted to reciprocate by cooking dinner for them.  Not only were the four of us going to Whisper  but a mechanic from Kubota was suppose to show up to check the transmission.   What craziness…Mike the Mechanic  showed up late, about 5:00 and our dinner party starts at 6:00.  Talk about close calls!! I actually encouraged Rita to cancel her party but she wouldn't listen.  At least her cooking kept her mind off of the mechanical problems their boat was having.
Happy Hours II & Whisper at High Street Landing
Dan and Kathy live in Elizabeth City right on the Pasquotank River next to the free college docks.  They keep their 32 foot sailboat in front of their house.  The story gets unbelievable.  When Whisper motored by their dock a few days ago up toward the Dismal Swamp, David had his binoculars checking out Dan’s boat.  Dan in turn was checking out Whisper as it went by.  Their two 32 ft sailboats are very similar in design…so yesterday, when Dan and Kathy were in Portsmouth they noticed Whisper at the bulkhead and walked over to talk to them….a friendship in the making!!  How real is that?

Rita out-did herself again with the meal.  She started with wine, then a beautiful salad, and finally a pot of porkloin with potatoes, onions, and peppers.  I gave Rita my piece of porkloin to add to the pot so we had plenty of food for 6 people.  What a wonderful night and what great people Kathy and Dan are!!  After dinner, Rita offered everyone a cup of expresso…not for me… and served my brownies.  Perfect! 

When we were  ready to leave, David opened his slider and hatch boards, looked out, and said “I don’t think anybody is going anywhere”!  What’s this all about?  It was an hour before high tide and the 70 mph winds blew even more water up the Elizabeth River and into this landing where we were docked.  The water covered our dock and it was 2 feet above the surrounding cement sidewalk.  Holy Cow!!  David put his wooden ladder over the side of Whisper and the four of us waded across the dock and up onto the cement.  The water was freezing cold, plus the temperature had dropped 30 degrees from the time we were sitting in the cockpit to the time we came out of the cabin….over a 3 hour time!  After Chuck adjusted Happy Hours’ lines,  I looked at our step and knew I couldn't get up into our boat!!!!  Chuck’s like a monkey and climbed up using our fenders…no way could I do that!  I went back into David and Rita’s boat.  We sat watching television for 1.5 hours.  Then, I started thinking... the tide won’t be low enough for me to climb aboard our boat until 2 or 3 am and the temps are still dropping.  Tonight’s low is 35 degrees!!!!!David and Chuck came up with an easy solution.  I don’t know why nobody thought of it sooner.  Chuck put on his full foul weather gear as well as his boots, lowered our dinghy and rowed back to Whisper.  David moved his ladder to the port side and I climbed down into the dinghy and we rowed back to an easy few steps up into the transom of our boat. Needless to say, Chuck wasn't very happy that he had to leave the comfy-dry interior of Happy Hours II to get me, but hey, I wasn't a happy camper that I was wet and cold too!  The down comforter is definitely going to be used tonight and possibly for the rest of the week.  Virginia is unseasonably cold this spring.  What a night!  Once the water receded enough, we had to go out in the rain again and readjust the lines.  We should have stayed in the Bahamas longer….

Friday, April 18, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014 Dismal Swamp with Lots of Delays Today!

One nice advantage to the Elizabeth City Public docks is the closeness to the draw bridge.  I called the tender at 6:30 am and gave him a heads up that we would be requesting an opening in 5 minutes.  He said he would have the bridge opened and waiting!  What great service!!  We wanted to get going by then because the bridge is restricted from 7-9am from M-F.   Plus, the weather’s suppose to change and bring winds and rain tonight.  So we’re trying to make it to Portsmouth, Va to tie up by early evening.

We are now headed to the Dismal Swamp and will get through it by late this afternoon.  The South Mills Lock opens 4 times a day just like the Deep Creek Lock.  We know we can’t make it to its first opening at 8:30 am  but we’ll be able to make the 11 am opening.  The only trouble with this is that motoring very slowly will still get us there 1 hour early.   Ugh!  It was so gusty and the waterway directly in front of the lock gates is pretty narrow, that Chuck was constantly moving the throttle forward and reverse to keep us off the banks and out of the overhanging trees.  It wasn't a fun filled hour, that’s for sure.  Finally,  it’s 11:00 am and the gates are ever so slowly opening…but in we motor.  Since we were the only boat, it didn't take long for us to lock up and through the gates and then motor the ¼ mile waiting for the lock tender to now become the bridge tender.  After 30 minutes, we were through both the lock and bridge and on our way to the Deep Creek Lock.
exiting South Mills lock
waiting for South Mills Bridge

bulkhead at the Welcome Center
narrow canal
The section of the Dismal Swamp between the two locks is very straight and narrow.  I think we are the only cruisers heading north except for sv/Whisper who left from the Welcome Center.   We are seeing quite a few kayakers launching at the Welcome Center and a Macgregor Sailboat tied up at a small dock along the way.  The only other boat is a sailboat heading south…very different than last October.  I made a mistake and told Chuck that the Deep Creek Lock’s next opening is at 2:30.  So he had the hammer down...
3 hours to make it from lock to lock.  Then when we were 10 miles out, I checked the time again and discovered that the last gate opening of the day is 3:30 and not 2:30.  Oops, sorry!  Chuck slowed us down and we still got there 1 hour early.  Not again….darn!  We arrived at the draw bridge at 2:45.  When I hailed Robert, he decided to call the other lock to see if there were any boats behind us.  There weren’t any, so Robert opened the bridge and lock gates early for us.  Yes, we finally got a break today…only to face another delay….the Gilmertin Lift Bridge.

Gilmertin Bridge and RR  Bridge
view waiting for Gilmertin to open
 It’s on restriction between 3:30 to 5:30. I knew this was correct because I spoke with the bridge tender about an hour ago.  Robert told me to call the bridge back to see if they have any commercial reservations scheduled during the restricted time.  The reservations must be made 2 hours in advance so the bridge tender knows one way or the other.  If we’re there and the commercial vessels get a lift, we can pass through that opening.  So, I called and no such luck!   5:30 it is!  We ever so slowly motored to the Gilmertin Bridge only to have an hour wait there too.  So many delays today….but once the bridge opened we only had 2 railroad bridges and a fixed bridge to pass and then we’d be at the High Street Landing and a free facedock with sv/Whisper.  We made it by 6:00…Yikes….it took us 11.5 hours to go 51 miles!!!!  David and Rita were there, waiting to catch our lines and to give us some back news. There transmission went out again…this will make it 4 times. I just feel so bad for them.

aircraft carrier across the river from us

HH II and Whisper at side

HH II at side
Surprise, surprise.  We were entertained by the Portsmouth Fire Department.  They brought in all of their fire trucks, ambulances, and even their fire boat and positioned them for a photo shoot!   Their lights were flashing for about an hour or two.    It was really cool!  I thought Zach and Papa Gorby would have been in heaven looking at the fire dept display around us!  Finally, Chuck and I needed something to eat.  Rita directed us to a great restaurant called Roger Brown’s.  It’s a sports bar and restaurant and the owner played in the NFL during the 60’s.   It was nice to just sit there and watch all of the tv’s scattered around the restaurant…