Sunday, May 19, 2019

Waterway Guide Cottage - our last day, end of blog for spring

Fleetwing on the hard, may she rest in peace for the summer!
We took the canvas off today and stored it all inside, carefully laid out so the glass wouldn't be wrinkled. It was hot in the full sun which served as a reminder of what it's like here during the summer months. We have the dehumidifier set up inside to cycle at 50% so we hope that's enough to keep the mildew at bay. We've never stored Fleetwing over the summer on the hard so it's a new experience for us.

Our stay in the cottage has been a godsend. The accommodations were first rate and the view can't be beat. We just like to sit on the porch and watch the goings and comings of the boats. I have one more major chore before launching Fleetwing in the fall and that's redoing the dinghy bottom. I have to get the dinghy bottom back to just fiberglass without any residue from the barnacles which is going to involve a chemical treatment to dissolve the calcium deposits left by the barnacles. That will probably be a very hot chore but we need a good bottom on the dinghy for the upcoming trip south in the fall.

Our view off the porch at our "cottage" which is more like a country house. What more to want?
We will be leaving for points north on Monday morning to reach our daughter in Pennsylvania at our halfway point. Then it's on to Lagrangeville the next day, our home for the summer. We have lots of things planned for the summer that includes having four of our grandkids over for three weeks, a week for everyone in Ocean City, NJ, a week for us on a road trip to Maine to explore old haunts, and trip back here to do the dinghy and then a final trip back here to splash Fleetwing and continue on to Key West which we missed dearly this year!

This is the last official blog for this season. There will be sporadic blogs on special events during the summer but not the daily blog like when we're cruising. This year, the blog will restart upon our return to Stingray Point Boat Works at the end of September and this time it will continue all the way to Key West! Wish up good luck!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Stingray Point - at the Watereay Guide cottage

Ed Tillett's boat, a "Trumpy" made boat. 
I decided to buy a dehumidifier for the boat for summer storage. I found one at the local hardware store and put it in Fleetwing at the "Continuous" setting, on all the time. One of the side effects is the heat from running t all the time. I checked it today and it was 91 inside the cabin when it was only 75 outside. Well, maybe I overdid it. I then set it on running only when the humidity was over 45. That's probably too low too but I've give it a try.

An inside view
We were invited to view the boat races from Ed Tillett's boat today so we went over around noon. He has a "Trumpy" 60-foot wooden boat. It is from a grand era that's no longer much on the water. However, it's elegance at its best, just a beautiful boat for enjoying what the water has to offer. Today,  it was races in small boats, very short but amply powered, great fun.

This was a "buy me" boat, it would go out and buy, "on the spot" oysters caught that day and store them in the hull below.  
We went back to Fleetwing to offload some more "vital" equipment for storage on land and all we have to do on Sunday is remove the dodger and bimini. Then it's off to New York for the next four months. I rented a SUV for the trip north and I've managed to cram it to the gills. I think that any size car you have will always be packed so there's room for nothing more.
We have a magnolia tree in the front yard at the cottage. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Stingray Point Boat Works - Fleetwing is Airborne

Fleetwimg is airborne!
We did our last minute preparations on Fleetwing and the crew arrived right on time at 8:00 to lift Fleetwing out of the water and move her to the land home for the summer. At Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, we do all our own work including operating the travel lift for taking boats out of the water. it was really strange to stand aside and let someone else do all the work. I knew where the lifting straps had to go and how to position the boat stands but so did they. They were very professional and did a good job.

The cottage here from Waterway Guide is very nice!
If I count the docking fees and fuel costs as well as the fee for storing the boat on land at PYC, we actually came out ahead and it was much easier than trying to find a window to go north up the New Jersey coast at the end of May.

It overlooks the bay, we've enjoyed our stay!
Fleetwing will be here until the end of September when we will return for our trip south in the fall of 2019 but this time all the way to Key West. We really missed out two month stay there this year! We can't wait to to back!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Stingray Point Boat Works - ready to be hauled

We are ready for haulout Friday morning!
We had waited for a calm day to go north and today it arrived. We had a west wind, not a north wind, and it was less than on Wednesday. It was a fitting end to a cruise that mostly had good weather the entire trip from Titusville.

The travel lift dwarfs what we have at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club
However,, it's a somewhat sad day. Our stay on Fleetwing is ending tomorrow morning when it's hauled and put up on land for the summer. When we're hauled at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club, we are full participants but here, the yard does all the work. They provide the labor, the boat stands and any wood needed to level the boat. They also have water and electricity available. Best of all, the entire yard is surrounded by 60 ft high trees which provide an outstanding windbreak.

I like the protection provided by the tall trees
So our cruise is ending early this year. There's no trip down the Delaware, up the New Jersey coast, up the Hudson River - we're done Friday! From what we heard of northeast weather from our family still there, it's not been a warm spring. I think we made the right choice.

I'm part of Waterway Guide and they have a cottage here for use by their people and we get to use it while we're hauling Fleetwing and when we come down in the summer to work on it. We plan to launch the end of September and start down the ICW yet again but this time all the way to Key West!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Downtown Hampton Public Piers - at a dock

Things are looking up at Downtown Hampton Public Peirs, nearly full
Once you join their cruising club, you only pay $1/ft for dockage and get every fourth day free. There's a fee for joining the club that varies by length of your boat but it's still a good deal. We made use of their laundry facilities today which are not enough to satisfy demand. There was a line all day long. The dockmaster said they would be adding one washer and one dryer in the near future.

There's a free, 72-hour dock just beyond the bridge (too low for sailboats but fine for powerboats)
Fleetwing will come out of the water for the summer this coming Friday at Stingray Boat Works. We will store it on land while we're up north during the summer. It fits in well with their openings since they are full during the winter but not so much during the summer. We will launch Fleetwing in the fall, probably in late September for our trip south again on the ICW to Key West.

Another strangely colored  bird
Meanwhile, there are lots of things to do to get Fleetwing ready for the summer storage. We will be buying a dehumidifier to keep the interior dry and hopefully free of mold and mildew. We have a car rental reserved for the trip north.

Our night heron says hi again!
Thursday is predicted to be a good day for going north with winds out of the west that will die off in the afternoon. We will spend our last night on the boat then with a haulout scheduled for Friday morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Downtown Hampton Public Piers - at a dock

It's always impressive to pass by the naval yards at Norfolk
Somewhere north of the Alligator River, we passed into the northeast weather zone. It's windy, cold, no sun and we can no longer get by with just shorts and a polo shirt. We endured our sunless ride to Hampton and took a dock at Downtown Hampton Public Piers. We've come here for years. It's close to downtown with many restaurants and the Virginia Space Center which has an iMax. It has decent WiFi and a washer and dryer. They also feature a herb garden for cruisers to harvest.

A night heron guarding his territory
We were only going to stay one night but then the weather forecast changed which was followed by the Coast Guard issuing a small craft advisory. Now winds of 15 kts with gusts in the 20s out of the northwest are expected Wednesday morning. Guess which direction we need to go? If the forecast is the same in the morning, we'll just stay here another day and wait for better weather - and run the heater at night for warmth.

Meanwhile, we were invited out for a nice meal and get together with Gordon and Eta and friends. It's all part of the ICW experience, the friends you meet along the way, can't be beat. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

Free dock across from Atlantic Yacht Basin - At a fixed dock

Good, sturdy docks - and free!
According to the forecasts, we had a window in the morning to travel before rain caught up with us in the afternoon. We didn't have far to go so we had a leisurely breakfast and shoved off around 8:30 or so.

The Boy Scouts recreated the historic way of making a fence, no posts needed - it seems to use up a lot of wood though
The ICW has shoaled in along the edges but the middle is fine and with Aqua Map display of the USACE surveys, it's very simple to stay right in the middle at the deepest point of the channel. Just steer in the blue or at least in the green shaded area, just avoid the red!

Just a wonderful nature trail through the woods
We reached the free docks which are in a park setting and only found two other boats tied up. There was room for three more so there are still places for two more boats. The docks are very substantial and well kept. The park has several nature trails and a history trail for one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War at Great Bridge. If you ever stop here, be sure to walk the trails, it was all very interesting. 

We will go through Great Bridge and the locks tomorrow and take a dock at Downtown Hampton Public Piers for the night. Gordon and Eta will meet us at the marina for dinner at their place. The next day, we will leave for Deltaville and Stingray Point if the weather holds. It will be the home of Fleetwing for the summer as we head back north in a rental car. The spring cruise is coming to an end but there's always next fall!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Coinjock - at a dock followed by prime rib for dinner

What is this guy doing here? I've seen him at Atlantic Highlands. 
The winds were predicted to be 10 to 15 kts out of the southwest but turned out to be a steady 15 that gradually increased to 17 to 18 with higher gusts. The weatherman got the wind direction right but on the Albemarle, that doesn't count for a lot in terms of a good ride. Any winds over 15 kts results in a rolly ride.

The most famous restaurant on the ICW
We were shoe-horned in as usual at Coinjock. They snug the boats up with less than two feet between them. All they have is one long facedock and they pack them in to maximize revenue. They help you come in but are not usually around when you have to leave in the morning in tight quarters before they open.

Happy Mother's Day!
It's a convenient place to stop between the Alligator River Marina and Norfolk. Its major claim to fame besides the location is the on-site restaurant that serves aged prime rib. When we first called yesterday, they said the restaurant was full, no room for more reservations. They took our request anyway and when we arrived today, they found a place for us.

I took Ann over for a Mother's Day dinner of prime rib, her favorite on the ICW. She eats about half of the prime rib and then has enough for a steak sandwich the next day. They do a great job with that cut, recommended.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Alligator River Marina - at a dock

The breakwater is a life saver for the marina
Our normal run would be from RE Mayo to the Pungo anchorage just south of the Alligator-Pungo Canal. However, the weather was forecast to be good and there was the possibility of bad weather later on, so we decided to push on to Alligator River Marina at 52 Nm. We got up early and pushed off a little before 7:00 am and made the marina by 3:40. It was a long day for us but with the fair winds and no wave action, it was easy.

We are on the one long facedock for easy in and out
The marina here is nothing special. It's actually just a gas station with a marina attached. It consists of one long facedock and a dozen slips with short fingers. On the plus side, it's very protected from wave action by the long breakwaters that extend out into the river so you'll have a calm night if you come. We used to just anchor our at any of the nearby anchorages but when we were beset with fuzzy bills one year, we skipped the anchorages and just took a dock here. They have fuel available and excellent WiFi.

We hope to reach Coinjock on Sunday and had a steak dinner but when I called this morning, they weren't taking any more reservations! It's a Mother's Day Sunday and they were full. So we're on a waiting list for the Sunday dinner. Who would have thought that a restaurant like that, out in the boonies, would be so full on Mother's Day?!

Friday, May 10, 2019

RE Mayo in Hobucken - at a facedock

well, it’s a working dock...
Well, it’s a working dock...

It was the calmest day we've ever experienced on the Neuse. It was like a lake with no wind. We will never expect to have a day on the Neuse like today again. We arrived at RE Mayo around 1:30 and refueled.

RE Mayo is a working shrimp dock. Don't expect any help coming in and the facedock is in various stages of damage from the huge shrimp boats have a less than wonderful docking experience. Ann lined the boat up, got us close, I stepped off and tied a line from the mid cleat to the dock, Ann put the boat in forward which caused the boat to snug up against the dock off the spring line (a common maneuver everyone should know)  - and I tied the rest of the lines after that.

The facedock here is rather rough, to say the least. There are missing planks, broken off pilings and no cleats. You just tie off to a piling and you'd better have good fenders against the raw docks. There are no facilities, no showers, no laundry - so why do we stop? Well, they have good frozen seafood caught locally. We load up on frozen shrimp and scallops when we're on the way south. Tonight, we just bought enough for one meal with friends we hadn't seen for a while who live in the area.

The fuel price is usually the lowest in the area and the dockage fee is only $0.30/foot. There is one electrical outlet included in the price. However, if more than one boat shows up and tries to plug in an adapter, then no one has electricity. Nevertheless, we always stop and sample their seafood, flash frozen for easy storage in our freezer.

We are headed for the Alligator River Marina on Saturday, a long day for us with it being a little over 50 Nm. We are trying to take advantage of the calm weather to head north while we can.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - provisioning

There's a free maritime museum in Beaufort and this exhibit shows the details of how to shoot a
 line to a distant ship that's aground. The arrangement is called "flaking the line" so it will
leave at high speed without binding 
The weather continued its unabated pleasantness with temps in the 70's and low humidity. One of the perks of Home Smith is their courtesy car. We took advantage of the opportunity to visit Lowe's, an upscale supermarket in the local area I would recommend.

At one time, we wanted a sailing dinghy, just like this. That time has past now
We took a walk to downtown in the afternoon which is only about four blocks from Homer's along shaded sidewalks. All of downtown looked fully operational. They had suffered during last fall's hurricanes but seem to be fully recovered now. There are plenty of docks downtown but we like Homer Smith's for the lack of current in docking and nicer docks with the courtesy car and great WiFi.

The end of a nice day
We plan on reaching RE Mayo on Friday afternoon and meet up with the Zeisings fo wine and dinner. The Neuse is predicted to be relatively calm with a south wind so it ought to be a good trip, we hope.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Homer Smith Docks at Beaufort, NC - at a dock

That's Browns Inlet. We are leaving the green buoy to port going north. The Coast
Guard has not moved the buoys yet to mark the dredged channel
Today we had the fun of going through New River, Browns Inlet, and the shallows by Spooner Creek. The least we saw was actually by Spooner Creek at 7.8 MLLW. However, you had to especially be careful at New River that you stayed in the deep water per the USACE chart as displayed in Aqua Map Master. Just following the buoys was a recipe for disaster, at least at low tide like we had today. There are too many sudden turns you have to make and needles to thread between shoals. With a USACE chart shown on your iPad or another tablet, it was easy.

Most disheartening was Browns Inlet. It has been dredged and the dredged route has 12 MLLW but it's not marked with buoys! In fact, the buoys still mark the old route which continues to shoal in. Just follow the dredged channel as shown on your USACE chart in Aqua Map, and you'll be fine.

The new docks are nice with the full length fingers with ipe wood
We wound up at Homer Smith around 3:00 and had a slip at their new docks which are beautiful. They had full length fingers finished with ipe wood, a great non-slip surface. throw in OnSpotWiFi and free laundry with a courtesy car, it's a great stop.

We had friends over for dinner and had a great time - just what you're supposed to do when cruising!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Top Sail Marine in Surf City, NC - at a dock

We were passed  by a fleet of stealth boats, strange looking
The trip north went through several skinny spots but there were no problems provided you followed the deepest water per Aqua Map USACE charts. My tracks follow the same path which I uploaded this afternoon.

A trip to the nearby beach is always in order
The great joy today is that the Surf City Swingbridge is no more. It was replaced by a beautiful (all 65 ft bridges are beautiful) bridge and the old swingbridge was removed. We're at Top Sail Marina which used to be the Beachhouse Marina before it went into bankruptcy. They now even had a dockmaster to handle the credit cards and for help in coming in, Capt Dee. 

Watch out for the local alligator
Surf City is one of the very few places along the ICW within walking distance of a supermarket. In this case, it's an IGA. It's been there for years and it has all the essentials. It's nice to see the beach and on some visits, eat out at Daddy Macs.  We chose not to this time but it's a great place for a meal with a view of the ocean. 

The marina is small, there's only room for one or two boats so get a reservation ahead of time
Another place not to be missed is the local seafood market. It's all locally caught and stored on ice, a common custom in the south as opposed to in a refrigerator. We usually buy some local seafood but not this time, maybe next year. 

We are headed for Home Smith Docks on Wednesday to meet up with friends and a dinner of fresh shrimp, we hope. It's the home of a shrimp boat fleet so we are hoping. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

St James Plantation marina - we wait out high winds

St James Plantation is right on the ICW just south of Southport, NC.
We could have gone today but the winds were 15 kts with higher gusts on the nose and against a 1.5 kt current and we had plenty of time so we just sat it out. Tuesday is predicted to be a much calmer day.

The houses here are beautiful. Every one is different and very well kept
Ann painted all day and I did work on my ICW Facebook page. I've been working with the Wilmington US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) who are responsible for keeping the ICW clear of obstructions and dredged. They publish depth survey maps and some of the most recent ones had been deleted inadvertently. So I was drilling down into their organization to find who could fix it. It was typical of things I used to do before I retired. Work never seems to leave completely.

We hope to reach Surf City on Tuesday and perhaps dinner out. One major bridge is no more, the Surf City swing bridge has been dismantled. Hurray!! There are still the Wrightsville Beach swing bridge and the Figure 8 bridge to get through but it's much easier with the Surf City bridge being replaced with a 65 ft fixed bridge. We are on the move again Tuesday.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

St James Plantation Marina - Windy day and Ann's paintings

One of Ann's recent paintings of a scene from B&B Seafood
There were predictions of strong winds and some thunderstorms so we stayed put today. We had intended staying through Sunday anyway but the weather confirmed our choice. I spent the day doing ICW stuff on the Facebook page and updating Waterway Guide hazard alerts. We never did the rains but we did get wins over 20 kts on the river.

Another scene along the way. I like the way she captured the water and the flowers in the foreground.
Meanwhile, Ann's been painting and I think she's expanding into new territory for her. One bonus I have it being able to enjoy her paintings all the time as they are set around the boat. She paints from scenes along the way on the ICW.

And we ended the day with a sunset
We are looking at the wind prediction for Monday morning. We will have a flood tide which is ideal for going up the Cape Fear River. The only problem is that a 15 kt wind with higher gusts out of the north is also predicted. That would put wind against tide which is never a good thing. It's not that it's dangerous, we just know from past experience that it would be uncomfortable - so why do it? On the next day, the winds will subside for a better ride north. A day here and there does not make much of a difference for us and we would rather be comfortable.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

St James Plantation - at a dock

Barefoot Landing Marina is no more. Now it's a series of small docks for small boats for a day stay.
There's no electric, no water, etc. By the way, they were totally empty on a Saturday afternoon
We passed through Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte today, traditional shoaling areas requiring high tides but this time they had been recently dredged and it was no sweat. We saw 10 MLW at both areas and they were straight shots through, no weaving and bobbing as in the past.

We passed this tug pushing a landing craft when a small powerboat went between us and the barge.
We were stunned when we saw him towing an inner tube filled with three small kids hanging
 on for dear life, bouncing along over the waves. If anyone had been thrown off, they would have been
run over by the barge, no question!
We arrived at St James Plantation around 3:30 and tied right up. It's the place we chose to ride out hurricane Matthew since it is so well protected. We met the McKays at the time who took us in, dog and all, when the hurricane went over the top of us that night long ago.

Bob423 and Hank Pomeranz
They are planning a trip north in a couple of days and they took us to the 6:00 briefing on weather and the ICW by Hank Pomeranz. It's one of those things you should not miss if you're in the area. It's an excellent preparation for heading north in the spring.

What a great meal at a great price! And, totally unique way of charging.
Next up was dinner out at The Provision Company Their specials were outstanding. We had the three "made on the premises" crab cakes with two sides for $16.95, a real bargain. The ordering was rather unique. They wrote your order on a memo pad, tore it off for the chef to see, and then you went to your table. Somehow they found you in the crowd with your food in about 5 minutes. On the way out, you told them what you had and paid then. At no time were there any records I could see of what you ate. Ann had a glass of wine and I had iced tea. We just told them of that and it was added to the charge. The closest I've ever come to that arrangement was in the Caribbean at Sidney's Peace and Love where you mixed your own drinks and told the cashier what you had.

We all had a great time and we'll treat with dinner Sunday night.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Osprey Marina - at a dock

There's a nice, long facedock on the way in - but electric does not extend to the far end
There were forecasts of thunderstorms all day today but when we got up in the morning, the forecast had changed to afternoon storms. Since Osprey Marina less than four hours away, we opt'ed for heading out. It turned out to be a good decision, the storms never materialized. Also helping out was the one knot of flood current pushing us north on the river. 

The high water almost reached the porch of the marina office
We reached Osprey by 11:15 and took a dock with electricity. The long dock on the way in still does not have electric all the way along its length. We got a dock close to the clubhouse this time, no golf cart rides for us on this visit. There are still signs of the high water they experienced with the summer hurricanes. However, the marina has fully recovered and everything is operational. The best part of all is the dockage price of only $1.00/ft! They even have free WiFi and a goody bag. 

We will be leaving in the morning for a 50 mile trip to St James Plantation Marina to meet up with the McKays. We will attend one of Hank Pomeranz's famous ICW briefings at Southport and go out for dinner. We're looking forward to a fun time!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Georgetown, SC - at a dock

There is a local artisan shop nearby where you can buy locally made items
We didn't have all that far to go today but it was through the shallows of McClellanville and Minum Creek. The least we saw at McClellanville was 4.2 MLLW which was fine with our 4.7 foot tide above MLLW. I recorded a track for others to follow.

We never miss a chance to buy fish from Independent Seafood 
We met up again with friends along the way and had a great time over wine in the cockpit. During the hurricanes this fall, Woody Cooper was key in keeping us informed of the happenings in the areas of Georgetown and the Socastee Bridge which has had a history of being non-operational during times of high water. We were also visited again by Phil and Michelle who went outside from Charleston to Georgetown instead of taking the ICW inside route due to low water and their 6' 7" keel. It's always good to hear from friends along the way.

What they have is fresh!
We are all watching the weather for Friday with thunderstorms predicted during the day. We are only about four hours away from our destination at Osprey Creek on Friday but we won't leave if the storms are too severe. It looks like a Friday morning decision.