Sunday, May 20, 2018

Mill Creek Anchorage - at anchor

It really is a  beautiful anchorage
We backed out without a hitch this morning even though there was a sailboat next to us and we only had about two feet of clearance. This time we remembered to release all the lines. The last time we were here, we forgot the mid cleat line and we came to a sudden stop! (me to Ann, "Why did you stop?", reply - unmentionable)

I decided to start Round 2 of the Weather App Shootout. We were headed up the Chesapeake and it can always be chancy on predicting the weather. I will be doing another article for Waterway Guide on the outcome.

Hoolie is fixated on that sandy beach!
We have lost confidence in The Weather Channel. It always seems to predict worst-case weather that rarely materializes. We've gone over to using DarkSky.net that works better for us. It's free too.

The anchorage at Mill Creek is classic Virginia. It's rural and peaceful. The depths are around 10 ft and the holding is good. There is total protection from any wave action and there is a high bank with trees on top for pretty good wind shielding too. There is even an area for Hoolie relief at a deserted, sandy beach under a 10-foot high bank.

We will spend the night and leave late morning for Solomons across the Potomac. it's windy in the morning but it calms somewhat later in the day for our crossing. We are still about two weeks behind our schedule of last year but at least we are finally on the move.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hampton - still here

Most boaters are still here
I got up at 5:30 to get ready for a 7:00 departure Saturday morning but the weather was not looking good. We're tired of waiting for weather and that's when it's dangerous. You tend to push the forecast to hear on what you want to hear and not the whole story. Hampton didn't sound so bad but then we pulled up the forecast for Deltaville which is along the way for us and that forecast was for rain all day long. So we hemmed and hawed and eventually, we chose to recognize the facts that it would not be a good trip. You do need some level of visibility to see the crab pots and it's generally not fun to motor in the rain anyway. Eventually, reason held sway over desire and we stayed yet another day in Hampton.

Hoolie can look so lonesome when left on the boat
Of the eight boats in the anchorage, three chose to go but the rest stayed. One of the three was headed south anyway, no big deal for them. Once again we are fixated on weather reports and we'll see which one is closest to reality when we eventually shove off, hopefully on Sunday.

I tried repairing the dinghy today. You are supposed to do the repair on land, away from the high humidity of the shore but I didn't have that luxury so I barged ahead with the dinghy still in the water at the aft of the boat. About 1/2 way through the repair, the rains come yet again. That is about the worst thing that came happen when trying to repair a dinghy! So I got out Ann's hair dryer and tried to salvage the project by drying everything off. I'll find out if I succeeded on Sunday. If worse comes to worse, I can always take the old repair off and start over, ugh!

This has got to be a good sign, right!?
The last shower came through a few minutes ago, we hope, and we're set for the night. Sunday is supposed to be windier but out of the southwest which is still good for us going north. We will do a last check in the morning.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Hampton - last day we hope

Waiting for weather
Hampton is stacked up with boats waiting for weather to go north. In the photo, you can see seven boats at anchor by our marina and one more came in later today. The boat to the farthest right is anchored right in the middle of the channel but nobody bothered him. I imagine there will be a few leaving Saturday.

View from above - from the parking garage with mother duck and her little ones
If you look at The Weather Channel, it shows thunderstorms every hour of the day for today, tomorrow, Sunday, etc. So the day went by and we had some rain but no thunderstorms. We are getting tired of sitting in weather good enough to move in.

Our salad tonight was garden fresh! Hampton maintains a garden for cruisers
We rented a car today and stocked up on a few things, not a lot but just enough to get us to Solomons where I can hike the mile to the nearest supermarket and get perishables. The dinghy only has one tube out of three holding air, nuts! I found a Westmarine and I'll try some patching over the next few days. I'm trying Tear Aid and also Polymarine adhesive for Hypalon. It holds air long enough to get Hoolie to shore and back at least.

The Taphouse, our favorite restaurant in Hampton, inexpensive and good
Needless to say, watching the weather predictions is the biggest hobby on Fleetwing. The winds are out of the south at 10 to 15 and any rain is not predicted to materialize until later in the afternoon. If that forecast holds, we'll leave Saturday morning around 8:00 and head for the Mill Creek anchorage just below the Potomac River and hope to move on to Solomons on Sunday and anchor. From there, who knows? The weatherman certainly doesn't. Wish us luck.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Hampton - We visit with Gordon and Eta

A surprise present for Gordon upon returning from the Bahamas and the ICW
If you're away from your home having fun on the ICW, what do you do with your car? You need to unhook the battery since most cars of recent vintage will have a small drain on the battery for housekeeping functions like security. I came home to dead car batteries for the first couple of years until I learned to take one of the terminals off the battery to disconnect it. Another soluttion is to remove the battery entirely and store it inside if you have no room in your garage.

Unfortunately, this leaves a cozy space under the hood. Imagine the surprise when Gordon lifted the hood of his car after many months of absence only to find a possum family in the battery compartment! He left the hood open for a day or so and eventually the possum family left for better prospects but he had a mess to clean out what was left of their nest.

Nothing left to solve, we voted to let the next generation handle it
We learned of all this when we were invited over for dinner with Gordon, Eta, and their friends. Eta made an excellent dinner of lamb with all the trimmings. We solved the world's problems in less than two hours, what a record! If only we were elected...

We are watching the weather for the first window to go north. Friday doesn't look good but we're open on the next days although they don't look ideal. We'll wait and see.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Downtown Hampton Public Piers - at a dock

Through the locks again
The forecast was not so hot with an overcast sky and the threat of rain in the afternoon. We quickly decided that if there was going to be a rain delay on our trip, we would much rather have that delay at Hampton than at Coinjock. After all, as much as we enjoyed the prime rib dinner, how many times can you do that? And, there is nothing else there unless your hobby is watching boats being squeezed in as tightly as possible. They actually wind up having more dock length than the added LOA of each boat!

Norfolk is always interesting - as long you don't get too close
Patrol boats were whizzing around between us and the big ships
When it's time to leave in the morning, they are not around to help. It's every boat for itself. Nevertheless, everyone got off fine. It helped that we were first in line so our departure was easy. We left at 7:00 am but most of the boats had already left - and we thought we were very early, ha!

Hampton is always nicely decorated
We hit all our bridges as planned and the lock too before the rains came. We motored in a downpour from Gilmerton bridge to just south of Hampton. Then the sun came out to welcome us to our dock. The marina is on the side of a river and the current runs crosswise to the docks so it's not as easy to dock as it appears. Adding more challenge is the half length of the docks themselves. They barely reach to the midpoint of Fleetwing.

Secure for the night. Note the short docks.
Downtown Hampton Public Piers is a very economical marina. The general cost is $1.50/ft but if you join their cruising club, the cost goes down to only $1.25/ft and every 5th night is free. We always stay here on the trips down and up. There is an Enterprise office just around the corner for renting a car, very convenient.

Our task is now to divine the weather on the Chesapeake and it may turn into another round of pitting the weather apps against each other with us as the guinea pigs. Well, anything for the education of our readers...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Coinjock - at a dock

We are packed relatively loosely this time around
It was a great day to cross the Albemarle with southwest winds, always behind us. We usually see fuzzy bills as riders but not this time. It was the biting flies that kept us busy swatting. You really wonder where they come from in the middle of the Albemarle, 10 miles from the nearest shore, but find us they did.

As I said, every space is taken
Our luck with good weather is about to come to an end, we think. There is rain in the forecast for Wednesday on our trip north to Hampton but maybe it will hold off until late afternoon. We have a little over 50 miles to go and three bridges that have to open for us to pass through. Great Bridge is right in front of a lock and then there's the famous Gilmerton bridge which won't open after 3:30. If we leave at 7:00 am, we should make all the bridges in time. We will be docking at Hampton about when the rains are due, oh well.

Whenever we're in Coinjock, we have dinner at the restaurant with their featured prime rib dinner. It was as good as ever and I would recommend it to all who pass through the area. The marina here is just one long face dock but tonight they are full. Most of the boats are much bigger than us and there's no dock space to spare. The dockhands make sure of that by packing boats much tighter than at any other marina. The bow of one will usually overlap the aft section of the one in front. It's all part of making sure everyone has a spot and maximizing the revenue I suppose.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Alligator River Marina - at a dock

I view of the Pungo-Alligator Canal, it's hard to imagine how anyone could get through that jungle!
We had intended anchoring out at Pungo River by the entrance to the Pungo-Alligator Canal but when we got there by 11:30 it was just too early to quit, even for us. So we soldiered on to  Alligator River Marina. We used to anchor out around the Alligator River until one time when we were visited by Fuzzy Bills (by the thousands). We anchored up by the entrance to the river and were the only boat for miles around with lights. Well, that attracted what is called, "Fuzzy Bills". They look just like mosquitos except they don't bite. However, they make up for that advantageous trait by dying by the thousands on your boat overnight. So you wake up in the morning and discover your boat is now green. Some people have reported having to use a shovel to remove the carcasses off the decks.  When it happened to me, I put into Dowry Creek Marina and spent three hours removing the green slime. I was one of three boats with the same problem. Given that experience, I no longer anchor out in the vicinity of the Albemarle Sound.

It's not a real marina, just a roadside gas station with a few docks but they are located in a convenient
place for us making the run from RE Mayo and Coinjock
The Alligator River Bridge is a real problem. We called ahead to be sure they knew we were coming since some reports said they wanted two hours' notice. So we called in the morning when we first set out and again about two hours before our arrival. It made no difference at all. They seemed intent on making all boaters await at least 45 minutes before opening the bridge. The operative word is "wait". We had a 15 kt southern wind with accompanying waves but it made no difference to the crew working on the bridge. In order to get through you had to punch your waiting ticket first. Nobody just rolls up to the bridge and gets through right away. We heard that it won't be done until sometime in May of 2019!

We are secure for the night and have both the forward and aft AC units going full tilt. The cabin temperature when we arrived was 95 and the outside temperature was in the high 80's. We will head for Coinjock on Tuesday and then on to Hampton. After that, it's looking for a weather window to go up the Chesapeake and home.