Monday, October 16, 2017

RE Mayo - at their dock

As I said, this is not really a marina, just a face dock - and even that is generous
We had heard (incorrectly) that you needed to give a two hour warning to the Alligator River Bridge before passing through it. A friend traveling with us called the bridge number at night and left a message that he wanted to pass through at 7:00 am the next day. So with that, we decided to take the same opening. At this time of the year, 7:00 am is barely light but we arrived on-time. We also learned that the start of bridge maintenance had been delayed until 10/30/2017, two weeks from now. The two hour notice requirement came out in a Notice to Mariners from the Coast Guard. I still don't know if that's true but it didn't apply to us since the construction work won't start until 10/30.

The bathroom for transients
There were winds of 25 kts and greater forecast for later in the day which was another reason for the early departure. Once underway, we decided to make for RE Mayo instead of the Pungo anchorage. RE Mayo was 65 Nm distant and we didn't arrive until 3:30 pm, just before the rains started. The winds were as predicted around 20 kts but they were all aft of the boat so the ride was fine.

We found the docks empty (you just come and dock, there are no reservations) and plugged into the only 30 amp outlet. This is not a real marina. The docks are worn to say the least and there's only one electrical outlet. On the other hand, the price is right at $0.40/ft including electric. The bathrooms are outhouses, there are no showers. But it is a good place to stock up on frozen seafood. Specifically shrimp, scallops, and flounder - all caught locally. The place is home to four very large (60 ft) shrimp boats.

This is the height board for the southern bridge on the Alligator - Pungo canal
So we are tucked in for the night and probably for the next few days since 30 kt plus winds are forecast for the Neuse River on Tuesday, not good conditions for going down the Neuse. Our next stop will be the Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort.

The ICW along here is home to huge barges that pass within 100 ft of the docks
A message to first time ICW travelers: this weather is not normal! For the first seven years of our travels on the ICW, the weather has usually  been warm and the winds light (well, except for hurricane Matthew last year - was that a start of a trend?) So don't be discouraged by this year's weather. It's been much too cold and windy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Alligator River Marina - at a dock

We took on fuel and stayed for the night. We saw 6 ft coming in. 
Today was a great travel day with light winds and little wave action. On Monday yet another front is coming through with a small craft advisory for the afternoon through Tuesday. Will this weather never let up! The route from Coinjock was without incident. All the hazard markers could be passed without a problem just by staying in the charted middle of the channel. At times it seems you are far away from the greens which you have to ignore, just stay in the channel as shown on your chartplotter.

We plan on anchoring at the Pungo River anchorage just to the right as you exit the canal. We've been there many times and it's secure and protected from north winds, the direction of the small craft advisory winds for Monday and Tuesday. A small, sandy beach nearby provides for Hoolie relief.

I am now minus one whisker pole and Chris has a plus one
Meanwhile I happened to meet Chris Coleman who also has a Beneteau 423 and he was looking to add a whisker pole to his boat. Well, I had such a pole that I hadn't used for the last 10 years so I offered it to him for 1/2 price. It was a win-win for all concerned. Chris even found a way to fit the pole into his car although some of it protruded aft of the trunk. It's good to see a piece of equipment get some use, it was top quality from Forespar.

We will get an early start to beat the predicted high winds of the small craft advisory later in the afternoon. We just have to get down the Alligator River and then we're in the canal which is protected from such winds. After that we have to cross the Neuse River which can be a bear in a bad wind.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Coinjock - at their face dock

The first order of business is to get through the canal lock
The trip down was fine as far as the wind and the ride. The problem was visibility. There was a steady drizzle all day long which fogged the windshields. We were .lucky to make the 53 Nm trip in 8.5 hours given the multiple bridges that had to be raised and, of course, the lock. I think the water lowered by less than a foot.

There were no shallow spots if you stayed in the middle of the channel as shown on your chartplotter. At times it seemed as if you were too far away from the green marks but in this case, the chartplotter didn't lie. There is shoaling by the green marks, just stay in the channel, no problem.

We see this sign every year but it's still impressive to us
Coinjock is almost empty, about 1/3 full at best. It's a far cry from when I was here the last time when we were packed with bows over the aft section of a boat. We also too advantage of the restauarant which serves a signature dish of prime rib. So when you'r in Coinjock, you must have the prime ribs cut. They do a good job  with the preparation and actually know what "rare"  means.

On Sunday we will sail to the Alligator River Marina on the other side of the Albemarle Sound. It will be a short day to balance out the long one today.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hampton - I give a seminar on the ICW

The audience for my presentation on ICW hazards
The weather continues to be the worst we've ever experienced on the ICW migration, north or south. Just a lot of wind and rain - all the time. We had wanted to leave Saturday and just go 24 Nm to the free dock after Great Bridge but the weather for crossing the Albemarle went south and now we need to go all the way to Coinjock Saturday so we can cross on Sunday. It's doable  but it's a long day.

Meanwhile, I took on one of the classes at the Snowbird Migration on ICW hazards. It was well attended and seemed to be successful. It was much easier using the iPad as the presentation device since you could expand the screen with the two finger magnify motion and move the screen center with just one finger. It was much easier than using a laptop.

We'll leave Saturday around 7:00 am for Coinjock since there are several bridges that need to open, not to mention the lock - all causing delays for the 54 Nm trip.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hampton - at a dock

The event is very well organized - a great way to learn about going down the ICW
The weather was not good for a Thursday departure date so we stayed put until the weather improved which appears to be Saturday. for a Sunday arrival at Coinjock and a Monday crossing of the Albemarle. Before then there will be 15 to 25 kts of wind, not to our liking.

With the delay, I'll be hosting one of the seminars at the Snowbird Rendezvous Friday afternoon. This rendezvous is a yearly event that has grown to 50 boats with topics on all aspects of boating that include:  ICW 101 (a day on the ICW), Nav and Piloting on the ICW, Going Off-shore, Drive Train considerations, Coastal Weather Predictions, Communicative Alternatives, Dealing with Boatyards, Seminar for First Mates, Anchorages and Frugal Favorites, Diesel Engines, Crossing the Gulf Stream, Bahamas, Cuba, Shore Power, Towns and Villages along rhe ICW, and How to use Active Captain.  You can see that it's a very comprehensive series of sessions on going down the ICW.

Charlene (at right) and Tom Hale (at left) with help from others, make the event happen
I'll be hosting the panel discussion of the ICW along with Hank Pomeranz. All the topics are interesting and I'll be attending and be one of the speakers on Friday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Downtown Hampton Public Piers - at a dock

Note the position of the fenders, the marina only has 1/2 length finger docks.
The forecast for the Chesapeake was for 5 to 10 kt winds and 1 ft waves according to the NOAA coastal forecast. It was wrong! When we left Fishing Bay we saw 16 to 18 kts with higher gusts. In comparing forecasts for the bay, the only app that was accurate was PredictWind.  It was developed by New Zealand for the America's Cup races. It is one of the few apps that provides predictions from both the GPS (US) and ECMWF (Euro) models so you can compare the two predictions for future weather. The PredictWind app was accurate when all the other apps and weather services were wrong (they predicted much less wind). I will be using the app more in the future.

The ride today was terrible with the high winds and short-period waves hitting the boat from the side. Nevertheless, we are now in Hampton where for the next few days the Snowbird Rendezvous takes place with seminars on traveling the ICW. It a very popular series of seminars and it's followed by the participants heading south as a group.

It's fender to fender here at the marina for the seminars on the ICW
Ann hosted a dinner tonight for Gordon and Eta Johnson along with John Kwak and Julia. It was a great time talking of all things nautical. We intend taking a break Thursday and only travel about 23 Nm to the free dock after the Great Bridge. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fishing Bay Yacht Club - at their free dock

Fleetwing at the Fishing Bay YC free dock
After all the high winds and waves, the Chesapeake settled down today with winds of 5 kts or less and almost no wave action. We took advantage of the good weather to make the 56 Nm trek to the Fishing Bay YC. The Bay was flat with no wind all the way. They offer one night's free stay to members of a recognized yacht club. The Poughkeepsie YC, which just celebrated their 125th anniversary, qualifies. We've been staying here for at least 10 years and they are always welcoming. The electricity is also free of charge and the dock is very protected. John Kwak followed us in and took the dock behind us.

Wednesday is projected to be rainy. The official NOAA forecast shows 5 to 10 kts but other forecasts show much more wind. Hopefully, the official forecast is correct. Both forecasts show a rainy day heading south with thunderstorms in the afternoon so we plan on an early start to avoid those.

Sailboat rule at this YC
We still plan on being in Hampton Wednesday night but leaving Thursday morning. We would like to stay ahead of the Snowbird Rendezvous so we're not fighting for dock space on the way south. I think they are due to leave the following Tuesday so we should have a head start.