Saturday, October 31, 2009

Elizabeth City

There was a mass exodus from the welcome centre yesterday and at 0730 sharp a flotilla of 10 boats moseyed down the lazy river to Elizabeth City

They call Elizabeth City the "Harbour of Hospitality" and they weren’t kidding. This town loves cruisers. Dockage is free, volunteers greet you at the dock and help with dock lines, there is a free shuttle to the grocery store, and there is even a welcome wine and cheese reception. The mayor of the town, who happens to be a boater himself, came down to welcome us and, of course, to promote his beautiful town.

Tonight is Halloween and, since there are several cruising families on this dock, it promises to be a fun time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Great Dismal Swamp

October 30/09

After reading the cruising guides, we noticed that we will be hitting places like Cape Fear, Mosquito Creek, Alligator River, and Skidaway Creek. With names like that it makes me wonder why anyone would want to enter the I.C.W. However, it was obvious today that we should not to let the names fool us as the Great Dismal Swamp, from what I could see, is anything but dismal.

We entered the Deep Creek Lock at 0830 this morning, (the entrance to the Dismal Swamp), and were greeted by the friendliest lock master who took the time to chat to everyone on each boat and make sure we were all tucked in safe. Even as we were coming up in the lock, he tried to play a tune for the nine boats by blowing into a conch shell. What a cool guy! Now there is someone who loves his job.

It would have been a scenic trip regardless but it's even nicer this time of year with the Autumn colours in the trees. The decision was made yesterday that we would go as far as the Dismal Swamp Visitor’s Centre today, which is about half way through the swamp. We were told it was a stop not to miss as there are walking trails and a wildlife centre. The stop had a dock that could hold three boats but we were told that rafting was expected. By the end of the day there were at least twelve boats rafted together and we had a great time meeting everyone and hear their stories.

On board three of the boats were cruising families and one even had a new ten-week-old baby on board. (Yes Brent, we met up with Adrian and Sarah!) At cocktail hour we all met on shore and a good time was had by all.

Getting Ready for a Swamp Stomp

October 28/09

Our sail from Hampton to Norfolk was great and we didn’t turn the engine on once (except for when we made a wrong turn but we’re not talking about that). Once we got into the city of Norfolk though we had to take the sails down as the tall buildings were ruining our wind (lol).

Norfolk, Virginia is an interesting place to see from the water as there are many war ships docked along the shores of every shape and size.

The weather was warm today 80°F and the sun shone bright making it most enjoyable. We stopped for the day just short of the “Great Dismal Swamp” in a wonderful anchorage called the “Hole in the Wall”. After spending five nights in Hampton, this was like a little piece of heaven.

Tomorrow we get ready for a swamp stomp.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There Goes the Budget

I can't believe it. Harley has chipped another tooth and is at the dentist right now as I write. There goes the budget.

If there is anything that controls a cruiser’s life more than the weather, it’s the “Cruising Budget”. Rich or poor, most cruisers live by a strict budget. With little to no money coming in, every penny is carefully watched and accounted for.

Ours is a moderate budget, which allows us to eat out now and then and go to a marina when necessary to plug into electricity, do laundry, and have a nice long hot shower, but it doesn’t allow for much more. Some cruisers live on such a shoe string budget that they have no refrigeration (no need to plug in) and live on rice and beans. Luckily we're not that desperate.

Regardless of what kind of budget one is on, every cruiser has to expect the unexpected ……like dental emergencies. Poor Harley chipped this tooth about two weeks ago but he didn’t want to tell me. He bit down on a hard candy some vendor was handing out at the Boat Show, and after having to take time out to go back to Barrie for some dental work at the beginning of the trip, he was feeling a bit embarrassed.

Oh well, these things happen, and he needs his teeth if he wants to eat. But maybe not, we could always go to the rice and bean diet. Who knows we may have to…….JUST KIDDING!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Check Your Anchor

There is never a dull moment on a sailboat.

Today, as we were getting ready to head into town, the wind picked up so we decided to stay on board to make sure our anchor was holding. Luckily, our anchor was well stuck but that was not the case for the 43-foot Catamaran that was anchored directly in front of us. We just happen to look up at the very time it broke loose and started bearing down on us. To add to the drama, the owners were not on board at the time.

While I did my best to protect our boat (and their's) by putting up the fenders, Harley jumped in the dingy to do whatever he could to fend it off. In the meantime another boater came to our assistance while someone on shore called the coast guard.

The hulk of a boat drifted along side us when it's anchor snagged again stopping it just a few feet abreast of us. There was not much we could do but watch as it broke loose and re-caught two more times. Each time getting closer and closer.

It created quite a stir in the anchorage with a crowd watching from shore and the coast guard showing up. The Coast Guard were reluctant to board the vessel but were quite concerned as it was now causing a navigational hazard.

Two hours later a very embarrassed couple arrived with a dingy full of groceries.

Today's lesson.....check the anchor and the weather before leaving the boat.

Friday, October 23, 2009

View The Trail of Blue Blazes in a larger map

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Goodbye Chesapeake

Recommended or not, Deltaville just wasn’t doing it for us and at 0830 we left.

We bucked a head wind and did a lot of tacking but we made it to the end of Chesapeake Bay today where we turned right and settled in Hampton, Virginia. Goodbye Chesapeake; hello ICW (Intracoastal Waterway)

The ICW, also called “The Ditch” is the waterway that travels from the Chesapeake to Miami. It officially starts in Massachusetts but the heart of the ICW starts at Mile 0 at Norfolk, Virginia and goes to Mile 1,095 in Miami.

We plan to stay in the Hampton area for a few days to take in the sights before heading over to Norfolk were we will hopefully meet up again with Lions Paw. Besides, since our insurance coverage changes considerably if we head south of Norfolk before November 1st, we think it would be best to wait till then.....or maybe not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The great weather we are having is just what the doctor ordered.

Yesterday we left Solomons Island and sailed/motored to Smith’s Creek, an anchorage off of the Potomac River. It was a beautiful secluded spot and we would have stayed longer but we are anxious to get further south before, God forbid, more cold weather comes. For now, though, we are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70’s (Fahrenheit).

Today we were on the move again and ended up stopping at Deltaville, Virginia. Since this place came recommended, I think we will stay a day and see what this place has to offer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

On go the sunglasses and up go the sails! At long last we are on the move again. Under a clear blue sky we left Weem's Creek in Annapolis.

Our destination today was to be Dunn Cove, which is about 20 miles from Annapolis, but the weather was so nice and the wind direction so perfect for sailing down the bay that we made the decision to carry on to Solomons Island.

We didn't see a cloud in the sky all day and thankfully we were able to open all the hatches to dry the boat out. Surprisingly things dried out quite well. Even the soggy sheets and damp lockers dried up. Thank goodness! The last few days were not pretty!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

There's a Place in the Sun....Somewhere

Journal entry:
October 18

It's 2:25am and as Harley is softly snoring away (bless his heart) I'm lying here listening to the rain beating on the deck and the wind howling through the rigging. I've been up a couple of times to check the anchor and make sure we're not dragging. There's no need to wake Harley. I'm quite capable of hauling his sorry a** out of bed if I need him.

This is day four of this cold wet weather. Yesterday I could see my breath when I woke up, which adds to the condensation problem we have making the boat just as wet inside as out. Every five minutes we go around wiping up all the drips.

We are, however, trying to make the best of it. The other day the four of us,(Marg, Steve, Harley and I) decided to take the bus to a nice warm mall. We took the dingy to shore (in the rain), walked 20 minutes to a shuttle bus (in the rain), which took us to the place where we catch the city bus. We waited 20 minutes (in the rain) for the bus to take us to the mall. By that time I was so freezing cold it felt good to sit on that warm, crowded, and smelly bus. I would have been just as happy to stay on that bus and ride around town all day. Now that's desperation.

Last night as I lay there awake I came up with a solution to combat all this cold and wet. (I do my best thinking at that time of day!) Harley can stop breathing and I can take the next plane bound for the Caribbean and come back when this is all over.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Time to pull out the foul weather gear.

Besides the fact that we are getting antsy to move on, everything is good here.

We planned to leave today but the rain has come and with it so has the cold. It looks like we will be staying put a little longer until things clear up a bit. With the heater on and the hatches battened down we are snugly sitting here doing not much more than reading and surfing the net. Thank goodness for Internet!

Of all the places to be "stuck" though, it's great that it is here in Annapolis. It's a pretty town with many trendy shops to browse through, and, since the Power Boat Show starts tomorrow, there will even be a free shuttle to take us downtown just a short walk away. (Cruisers love anything free!) Also within walking distance is a laundry mat, drug store (with a liquor store in the back), and a grocery store. What more do we need?

Hopefully our next post will be telling of our sailing adventures.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feels Like Home

I am all showed out! The Annapolis Boat Show is interesting for sure and a great place to pick up those things you just have to have for your boat (and things that you don’t really need but bought anyway), but man is it tiring. The best part though, for me, was meeting up with friends from home.

It was so nice to see Paul and Denise again who met us on Friday, and for three days took care of us like we were family, taking us shopping and eating out. I can’t begin to express how much we appreciated their help.

Also, much to our delight, we met up with several other people from back home. John P., Terry, Ken, Grace, George, John B., Jerry, Jeff, Ted, Maggie, and Roy....It was so great to see everyone.....It felt like old home week! You would have thought we planned it.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Since we've been in the same area for several days, and haven't had anything exciting to write about, the blog has been pretty quiet lately.

The Whitby Rendezvous was great and we thouroughly enjoyed the many seminars and guest speakers. How to prepare a boat for a long passage and new ways to organize the gally were amoung the many things we learned. I even learned how to receive the best wi-fi connections...that is... if I wanted to spend lots of money. The people were wonderful and it was fun to swap stories and learn from everyone's own unique experiences. They were a great bunch and hopefully we will meet some of these folks again on our travels.

Today we are anchored in Annapolis Maryland for the Boat Show and we are looking forward to meeting up with our good friends Paul and Denise who are visiting from Ontario.

The weather is still very nice and warm but after the show we will be heading south again in search of some warm tropical weather.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Sailing!

We had the best sail of the summer yesterday.....but wait a's not summer anymore is it? Well it sure feels like summer.

With not a cloud in the sky, and a warm 20 knot breeze we sailed from Baltimore to West River, just south of Annapolis. The conditions were perfect and, to be honest, I can't remember enjoying a sail more. Maybe it's because I'm well rested, or because we just spent four fabulous days in Baltimore, or maybe it's the great weather, but yesterday I felt the thrill of sailing like I have never felt it before and I can now understand Harley's addiction to this sport.

We are now settled in at the West River Sailing Club and are taking part in the Whitby Brewer Rendezvous. They are expecting fifteen Whitby 42's to show up for the event and so far eight have arrived and even though we arrived in our measly little CS36 they are letting us be part of the group (but talk about being the odd man out!)

We are staying in this area for the next week as the big Annapolis In-water Boat Show is this coming weekend and you know we can't miss that!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore

This corner of the planet is truly gorgeous and reminds me our beautiful Georgian Bay with its many bays and inlets (or ponds and creeks as they call them down here). But instead of the rock and pines of Georgian Bay, Chesapeake Bay’s shores are lined with deciduous trees and red sand beaches and it’s remarkable how much of this area is still undeveloped.

Having said that, here we are in the busy port of Baltimore enjoying civilization and city life. The first two nights we anchored in the popular inner harbour and it was exciting and very cool to be right in the thick of the action in the city core but we moved to a marina today to take advantage of electricity, proper showers, and laundry facilities.

Tonight, as I was preparing dinner, we had the pleasure of the Pride of Baltimore pull up beside us on the dock and it was exciting and fascinating to watch the crew manoeuvre the vessel, handle her lines, and furl her sails. I can’t get over our luck! It was an incredible experience indeed.

And, oh, by the way, I ate raw oysters for the first time! I am so proud of myself.

We’re off to Annapolis tomorrow.