Monday, July 12, 2021

The 2021 ICW Cruising Guide edition is now available in both paperback and eBook versions. It also includes a 25% discount coupon for charts for Aqua Map.

New in the 2021 Edition:
- 150 updated charts will guide you through the shallow areas so you can enjoy the ICW and stay out of the mud!

- Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) surveys have been added to all charts where available. Much of the Florida ICW did not have color-coded depths, no more, the FIND charts provide much needed depth detail for Florida waters.
- Max Parker, VP of Yard Operations for Zimmerman Marine, contributed a 6 page article on "How to ICW Proof Your Engine", what to look for and do before starting out and while underway. For many boaters, starting out on the ICW is the first time they've run their engines for extended periods of time, Max has seen it all. Prevention is the key but you've got to know what you're looking for.
- Hank Pomeranz's 23 page introduction to weather planning continues, it's an excellent start in understanding weather.

- Many updates have been made to all the chapters:
  • How to Prepare Your House for an Extended Absence (new, easy to use webcams and more)
  • How to Prepare Yourself for an Extended Absence (tips learned the hard way)
  • Outfitting a Boat for Cruising the ICW (calling a bridge, passing, getting off a dock when pinned by wind, how to tell an ICW buoy from a river buoy, and much more)
  • The Cook Speaks (we learned the benefits of an Instant Pot)
  • Staying Informed while Cruising (many good apps are out there, which ones do I find the most useful?)
  • Basic Knowledge on the ICW (I cover what you need to know when cruising the ICW)
  • ICW University (a deep dive into topics such as when to trust (and not trust) Aqua Map and the USACE surveys, Navionics SonarCharts, buoys, etc. 11 topics are covered and I'll go into more details as the July 15 date approaches
- Technology continues to advance and I cover what's new with many changes to previous recommendations. The Guide has expanded to 275 full color pages.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Zimmermans in Deltaville - at their work dock and "That's all folks" for this trip

Zimmermans has a big yard, super-sized travel lift

 The trip up from Norfolk was rather sloppy. The winds were calm enough, in the 5 to 10 kt range, but the boat never settled into a smooth routine. Compounding the problem was the 1 to 2 kt tide against us all the way north. 

Sitting comfortably at our dock at Zimmermans work dock - with WiFi!

Eventually, we reached Zimmermans in Deltaville which shares docks with Norview Marina. The place looks a lot bigger than where we kept Fleetwing last year at Stingray Point Boat Works. We needed some serious engine work on our 6000 hour Volvo diesel so Zimmermans looked like a good place to leave it for the summer. 

Does anyone know what these things are?? They
appear to just be a piece of plastic. They are on every post, both sides. 

Matt, our grandson, is due on Saturday with our car from Titusville and then it's on to getting Fleetwing ready for summer storage. The jib, bimini, and dodger all have to come down and will be stored inside the boat. I'll set up the dehumidifier inside which I've found to be the only effective deterrent to mold and mildew forming inside the boat. 

Adding to the chores will be a thorough cleaning inside, emptying the water tanks, doing a pump out, running the outboard without gas connected to empty the carburetor, and probably a few other things I can't think of at the moment. 

It's been a nice trip, not what we wanted since we didn't make it all the way to Key West - but still a good winter. Since we arrived at our summer home for Fleetwing, this will be the last blog entry until the start of our fall trip, probably around 10/1/2021, this time going all the way south to Key West!!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Norfolk Yacht Club - Chaos at the lock, stealth boats, dock at Norfolk Yacht Club


The day started out innocent enough, a 9:00 am opening at Great Bridge

We didn't have far to go since we only wanted to stage for Deltaville on Friday. We took the 9:00 am opening of the Great Bridge and proceeded to the lock with two other boats. There was no help. All three boats wound up drifting away from the bulkhead (there was some wind and perhaps a slight current). Fleetwing at one point was perpendicular to the bulkhead. The two powerboats faired better with one doing okay and the other only drifting at about a 45-degree angle off the side. 

After our lock adventure, we were greeted with this sight at the Gilmerton Bridge. ! No way through!

Eventually, one of the two dockhands (lockhands?) walked slowly over and offered to accept an aft line, and all the boats got straightened out. Are they still observing the "no help rule" of COVID-19 lock handling? It appears so. 

Always plenty of these guys on hand

Since we had done a 180, we backed out once the other two boats left. It really does help to have someone grab your lines from shore. We thought the excitement was over for the days - but we were treated to a train on the railroad bridge by the Gilmerton Bridge, oh joy. We lost an hour there circling, that bridge is incredibly slow in raising and lowering. 

Two of these whizzed by. Notice the camouflage, it's the 
latest design, a digital pattern

At last we're through? Well, not yet, one of the other two railroad bridges north of there also thought it was a good time for a train crossing, nice timing. I guess it was a send-off for the last bridges going north! We're presently at the Norfolk Yacht Club, a great facility. We like it since it's at the northern part of Norfolk and for us that makes a shorter trip to Deltaville the next day. It's also off the main channel so there are no wakes and no current to contend with. We have a facedock for the night which makes it very easy to dock, we like that. 

On Friday, it's off at 8:00 and we head north, the last leg of our trip. Our grandson picked up our car in Titusville for us and he'll meet us in Deltaville to help with decommissioning Fleetwing and the trip home. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Free doc by Great Bridge - the price is right and the docks are first rate


Four hours of following this guy and hoping he'll make it through all the narrow bridges

Just before we pulled out of Coinjock, a doublewide barge passed by Coinjock. We didn't think anything of it since they usually are faster than us, but not in this case. We wanted to do 7.3 kts and the barge was maxing out at 6.7 kts. That part of the ICW is rather narrow so we just idled along. 

A very nice park was adjacent to the docks, good nature walks

We watched as he maneuvered through some narrow openings in bridges, he didn't have much leeway on either side. I had visions of him pulling an Evergreen and blocking the ICW for weeks! Those things seem impossible to steer anyway, they are so massive. 

The docks were first rate

We were the first boat on the free docks just south of Great Bridge. They are fixed docks and very well made (they would put RE Mayo to shame!) Tonight, there are only three boats here, plenty of room for at least four to five more. 

Atlantic Yacht Basin was across the channel and 
provided internet via OnSpotWiFi

One of the attractions of the place, other than it's free, is the adjacent park with walkways through the woods. With such opportunities, I took Hoolie out for three walks this afternoon. He's still suffering from his culinary indiscretion at RE Mayo. Fishing bait left out in the sun for several days is really not prime food for a dog. Hoolie thought it tasted wonderful - his stomach did not agree - it came out both ways. Hopefully, he's on the mend but we won't know until tomorrow for sure. 

Tomorrow we're headed for the Norfolk Yacht Clube for an overnight dock, then it's a hop up the Chesapeake for Deltaville and Fleetwing's home for the summer. We have a couple of day's work to put Fleetwing to sleep for the summer and probably some work on the boat by Zimmermans. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Coinjock - we have the famous prime rib dinner


Outdoor dining at Coinjock - actually not bad

The Albemarle was tame today. With 8 to 10 kts of wind, the crossing was calm, even with the wind out of the north. We reached Coinjock by noon, ahead of schedule. The price increase disease has reached Coinjock too, it's now $2/ft when it was $1.75 in the fall. They have both gasoline and diesel available.

Great prime rib when served rare!

When in Coinjock, the first thing we do is make a reservation for their prime rib dinner. For us, it has always been a special treat, excellent when served the way we like it, rare. I finished mine but Ann had 10 oz left over for sandwiches tomorrow!

Well, we're not leaving bow first!

We ate outdoors, the restaurant added a huge outdoor tent that looks to be a permanent fixture from the way it's constructed. It at least doubles the capacity of the restaurant and the outdoor environment fits in well with current conditions. When we came through in the fall, the office was cordoned off with plexiglass but all that is gone now. None of the office personnel were wearing masks. 

Now more plexiglass - all is now open with no masks

When we came back from dinner, we found a ferry parked in front of us. I didn't think there was room but somehow he fit. We will not be leaving going forward! We'll just back out as usual. 

On Wednesday, we're headed to the free dock by the Great Bridge, a short run of about 32 NM. It's supposed to be another fine day.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Alligator River Marina - Non predicted winds, deep enough to get in, at a dock


There were seven boats in here tonight

The forecast for today was for 6 to 8 kt winds, including gusts from Dowry Creek to the Alligator River Marina. The first half of the prediction was true, in the canal. Once we rounded out and started up the Alligator River, the winds piped up averaging 15 kts with sustained gusts to 19 kts! It was not quite what the weatherman said, nor any of the apps! It was a wild ride with the wave build-up. 

Watch out for that board, unfinished dock work

We had heard that the entrance to the Alligator River Marina had been dredged so we weren't too concerned about making it in but after talking to the dock over the phone, doubts crepted in. It seems that indeed they had dredged it, down to 8 ft according to the owner but the sustained north winds of the last three days (unforecasted!) pushed a lot of water out and lowered the water level in the marina by at least one foot! 

All dredged material had to go somewhere

I recorded the water depths coming in and saw 5.6 feet in Aqua Map. Once at the dock, I saw that the usual level step off now required a foot high step from the boat up to the dock. So on a "normal" day, the depth over the bar on the way in should be 6.6 feet. There is ample evidence of the dredging since there's a large mount of dredged material by Wanda's old house. I guess they had to put it somewhere. 

I saw this double-wide barge headed my way on the narrow Alligator-Pungo Canal!
I met him right by the area with all the stumps poking out of the water!

We never miss having an ice cream cone at the marina! I order just one scoop but they pile it on at least two scoops high, very good. They close at 7:00 pm so don't wait too long. 

We head for Coinjock on Tuesday, hopefully, the weatherman has better luck with his forecast than he did with Alligator River!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Dowry Creek Marina - At a dock


The marina office overlooks the pool!

We just took it easy today and didn't try to stretch the day to Alligator River Marina, we're glad we did. The weather was fine. It seems we've entered a period of calm weather and everyone is making tracks north. The winds were 4 to 10 kts but seldom did we see anything over 8 kts today, the water was flat. It was great for motoring, not good at all for sailing. 

The have great plans!

Dowry Creek was one of the few marinas in the area that had both gasoline and diesel for sale. Most marinas had diesel (since it can't be used on the road) but few places still had gas. Dowry Creek is a very nice complex. How many marinas have their own pool, Dowry Creek does. They also have a clubhouse and a small 7/11 type shop. 

The docks are fixed but very sturdy

They are also building a huge restaurant on site that's due to be completed by fall. The place will be like an all in one resort! The WiFi works well too, around 5 to 8 Mbps at our dock. 

They have a nice clubhouse too with a large TV

Meanwhile, we've been doctoring Hoolie. He found something rancid to eat at RE Mayo off the docks where people were fishing. I'm guessing it's bait fish that sat in the sun for several days. Hoolie thought it tasted great! Later that night, I think he changed his opinion and in the morning, it came out both ways! He's on a watered rice diet at the moment and we're hoping for improvement. He was certainly not himself today, not too perky. 

The on the agenda is Alligator River Marina to stage for Coinjock the next day across the Albemarle. So far, the weather looks good for the crossing, let's hope it stays that way!