Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Rose and her crew are continuing their trek north. Since our last post we left Grande Dunes Marina in Myrtle Beach and made our way to anchorages in Wrightsville Beach and Cedar Creek.

The anchorage off Cedar Creek

While underway we were hailed on the VHF radioand greeted by Capt. Mark Chest on his boat Dayz Off from the Baltimore area. He came aboard for our maiden voyage in 2004 and trained us while we were underway from Baltimore to the Alligator River Marina in N.C. It was good to hear from him and we promised to connect in Rock Hall, MD where he now keeps his boat.
Our route that day took us across 4 rivers, the Neuse, Bay, Pamlico and Pungo enroute to Dowry Creek in Belhaven, NC. Smooth cruising! We are now traveling with Ted & Terry on Berlie Mae another Great Harbour 37, and had promised them a dinner of Connie’s veal & peppers. Once we were secure at Dowry Creek, Connie took the courtesy car into town for a few groceries and I changed fuel filters, repaired the faucets in the galley sink and replaced a burnt bulb in a running light. I was having a difficult time with the last task since the light is outboard and requires leaning well over the side. Another boater was walking down the dock, saw me struggling and offered her help. Melissa was delivering a boat to upstate New York but is usually employed as the Dockmaster at Golden Isles Marina in Brunswick, GA. I held her by the ankles, (a tough job but one that had to be done) while she replaced the bulb. She agreed to stay on board for a few shots of Limoncello with the four of us and I suspect we will try Golden Isles on our next trip south.

The Admiral at the helm in calm conditions.

We crossed the Albemarle Sound and anticipated, (based on the forecast) decent conditions. Since the Sound is open to the ocean, it is not a place to challenge Mother Nature. Unfortunately the waves and winds were not as hoped and it was uncomfortable. Connie had the helm and did a great job of tacking rather than running a straight course so that we avoided having the waves on our beam.The good news is we were much more comfortable that way.

The bad news? That strategy was time consuming and we missed the 4:30 opening of the Elizabeth City Bridge. I knew from experience that having Connie call the bridge tenders works well, especially in the south. She tried coaxing the bridge tender into delaying the opening for another 10” to no avail. So, we dropped the throttles back to idle and lazily continued on.

The Elizabeth City area is very boater friendly and there are free docks all over. We introduced the Berlie Mae to a long bulkhead behind a commercial-industrial building. It is very protected and north of the bridge, which means we don’t have to time our departure or request an opening in the morning. We always stop in at the warehouse office on arrival to thank them for their courtesy. Terry biked to a local Wal-Mart to pick up a prescription and then we all met at a coffee shop in town for a sandwich and a beer. We were surprised to learn that they had live music which only added to our enjoyment. There is no end to the local surprises waiting to be discovered on the waterway!

On Saturday, 5/3/08 we proceeded through the Great Dismal Swamp a route that is about 51 miles long. While we were in the southern lock, the lockmaster alerted us that there were, “a few kayakers” on the river. We did not give that a thought since it is a no-wake zone and we have to move slowly to time the northern bridge and lock anyway.

A few? Try a flotilla! There had to be at least 300 people on kayaks who had volunteered for this event; Paddle for the Poor. From the looks of things some of these people had no experience on boats and therefore even less knowledge of boating procedure. To further complicate the situation they were being escorted by several power vessels also manned by volunteers such as Coast Guard Auxiliary, (think Barney Fife here). After we were about a third of the way through the kayakers, the escort boat ahead of us hailed us on the radio and gave us an order to stay back and follow the rest of the pack. In theory that sounds fine, except that The Rose weighs 46,000 lbs with a 16’ beam and we’re navigating in a channel that has about 7’ of depth and is 40’ wide. Not very forgiving to say the least. We made our case succinctly and they promptly changed their mind.

Kayakers and escorts on the Dismal Swamp

After the kayakers, we were passed by a pontoon houseboat headed in the same direction. This is unusual, since we all have to wait for a bridge and then a lock to open so there is no advantage to being at the head of the line. In any event he entered the lock ahead of us with the wind blowing briskly on our beam. The lockmaster directed him to a portside tie, except that the wind had other ideas. The boat drifted crossways and then the captain made things worse by putting it in reverse instead of forward, gunned the engine and proceeded to run his stern and outboard motor into the steel lock wall. Ouch! People yelling, boats drifting and I’m working like hell to keep The Rose straight and hovering in one position until called. Finally the pontoon boat is tied up and we’re directed in behind him. Connie is on the stern and quickly passed the line to the dockmaster who drops it onto a bollard and then catches my bow line so that we’re secure. I was ready to ask the meathead ahead of me why he found it necessary to pass on the Dismal, (a no-no) when I realized his wife was reading him the riot act big-time. He didn’t need to hear my whine, and there was justice after all!

We left the serenity of the Dismal Swamp to experience the hustle-bustle of Norfolk Harbor. Talk about culture shock? There are tugs moving huge freighters, armed marine guards protecting naval vessels and the tenders from four bridges all competing for radio time and space in the channel. We threaded our way through, amused at memories of our white knuckled passage the first time south. We are still alert, just a lot less stressed about this area.

Freighter traffic in Norfolk Harbor w/Berlie Mae

Saturday evening we anchored off Norfolk Harbor about 2.5 miles up the Lafayette River where we spent a quiet night. A small powerboat with 3 people aboard circled us right after we set the anchor and then asked, “could you go to Europe in this?” Yes, Connie answered, but not with me aboard. They chuckled and recommended a nearby bar-restaurant that we could reach by dinghy. We thanked them, but both of us are beat after 14 days of running and need an early night in the sack.

Today, (Sunday 5/4/08) we are making way for Deltaville and Norview Marina. Berlie Mae is behind us at this point and will continue up the Chesapeake. Their ultimate destination is Watkins Glen, NY and we wish them a safe passage. We are anticipating the Chesapeake will kick up for the next couple of days and Norview offers us a great deal of protection from the prevailing winds and a chance to take a much needed day off.

Our arrival at Norview was a little off the beaten path. Connie was in the cockpit, at the rear of the boat with a dock line in hand. She swung the cockpit door open to make securing the stern line easier while I maneuvered the boat into position. Unfortunately she forgot to latch the door and as the boat moved the now secured dock line slid under the door lifting it neatly off the hinges and into the water. That is an, “OH SHIT” moment! Our door is floating down the creek and the dockhand tells me that they don’t have a skiff available. Yours truly emptied his pockets, slipped on a pair of fins and dove in. All’s well that ends well and we don’t think that door will ever be open and unlatched again.

We’re resting easy here in Deltaville and one of the resident boaters offered to take Connie into town so that we could buy some cards and deposit them at the local post office. That’s the personality of this area. If you walk from the marina into town, usually a passing motorist will stop and offer to drive you in.

This is the Berlie Mae in Norfolk Harbor. Ted & Terry are cruisers who have been liveaboards for about 8 years.

This is a shot from the Dismal Swamp of an adjoining farm. I believe the yellow means that field was planted with soy bean which is just sprouting. As you can see, the color is spectacular.

A couple of participants from the, "Paddle for the Poor" on the Swamp. Most of the participants seemed to be having an enjoyable experience and were treated to barbecue at the finish.


At 5:48 PM, Blogger thetraveloftherose said...

Hi There

Loved the dismal swamp adventure. Looks like your having a good trip north. I love the admiral's pink socks!

S/V Spartina

At 11:56 AM, Blogger mikeee said...

I would have loved to be there for the door rescue always look forward to the adventures sort of like bieng there mikeee


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