Saturday, May 21, 2022

Home at Lagrangeville, NY - Fleetwing is on the hard, long drive home - last post of the season!


Note the straps, they are there before the lifting straps are in place, to protect the hull

We were due to be hauled at 7:30 am but things never go as planned on the water. We came to the well store find a boat ahead of us that was to be launched. Unfortunately, it developed a water leak at the stuffing box so it sat in the slings until they figured out what to do. Meanwhile, we waited to be hauled, having a nine hour drive ahead of us. As the minutes ticked by, they gave up on trying to fix the leak and pulled the boat to one side - finally.

A water moccasin wanted to join in the fun! He was shooed away. 

The yard here is very professional. I had marked the lifting points on the boat and the yard placed short pieces of lifting straps at those locations, four in all. They only extended from the boat to the water, not underwater. The intention was to prevent the lifting straps on the travelift from marring the side of Fleetwing. It seemed to be a very good solution, I had not seen it before.

Fleetwing is airborne to it’s summer resting place

Fleetwing became airborne and it looked in good shape, no barnacles and the prop was clean. She flew to her resting spot for the summer with the travelift and it was well taken car of with supports. I plugged the power in so the dehumidifier would run over the summer to prevent mildew. It’s the only way we’ve found to prevent the affliction.

The drive home was on a Friday afternoon, into rush hour and with a severe thunderstorm warning. It took a while but we eventually got home and collapsed. Now it’s time for me to turn out the 2022 edition of ICW Cruising Guide and perhaps two other related books, we’ll see. 

It’s been an unusual spring run given the strong east winds pushing against us on our way east from Key West. Then we ran into the week of north winds in the 20 to 30 kts range where we waited at Dowry Creek Marina for a window. That finally came and we scooted north. So, mark your calendars for October 1, 2022 when our fall adventure to Key West begins. The blog will restart then, hope to see you along the way!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Stingray Boat Works - waiting for a haulout


Well we did find a facedock for the night. There are two boats ahead of us tomorrow.

Rather than come over to the haulout dock in the morning, we decided to move over after their closing time so we would be sure to be first in line. We were due to be first anyway so we motored over but discovered that there were two boats ahead of us than they had not yet hauled as of 4:30. We were surprised to find no room but there was a dock just to the north of the haulout that was free and we took that for the night. 

This is NOT Fleetwing. This boat is sitting i the slings for the night, ahead of us.

So now we are in a line for Friday morning. We can’t leave until Fleetwing is settled in for the summer. I need to ensure the boat is plugged into power for the dehumidifier - which is the only thing that has ever worked to keep mildew at bay. 

We are both exhausted from unloading Fleetwing and loading the car. The other major work items as taking down the Bimini and enclosure, big projects. As we sit here at 6:45, Fleetwing is finally ready. The only thing that remains to be done is emptying the freezer and refrigerator. The yard will put Fleetwing up on blocks and store the dinghy under the boat. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come down in the summer and work on Fleetwing to prepare it for the fall season. 

So another season comes to a close. It’s been great fun meeting all the people that use my tracks. We’ve seen visitors at every marina we’ve been at on the way north, great fun. Here’s hoping tomorrow goes as expected!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Dozier’s - at a dock

What a great front porch!

 We are taking three days to get ready for a haulout by Stingray. Today was my chore to do an oil and oil filter change along with two fuel filter changes and a transmission oil change. That took most of the morning but it’s part of getting the boat ready for summer storage and a quick departure in the fall. 

The docks are floating, very nice, well maintained

On Thursday, it’s boat cleaning day and packing for the trip. We have to fit everything into our Nissan Rogue which is normally not a problem except we’re taking our bimini and enclosure along too, both are in need of repairs. It’s almost impossible getting canvass repairs done on the ICW so we’ll return to our original canvass guy and have him do it. 

They even have a small swimming pool. The laundromat is next door.

The marina here is pretty nice. They have a great front porch and floating docks, both pluses. The people are nice and everything’s in good shape. We plan on returning in the fall to launch Fleetwing and then move over to Dozier’s for a day or so to do final prep on Fleetwing for the trip south. I think we are returning to Key West again if everything holds up as expected. Friday is still our departure date for New York.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Regatta Point Yatching Center (formerly Dozier’s) - at a dock


I’ve never seen so many aircraft carriers in for maintenance, about 6 I think I counted

After a week of high winds at Dowry Creek Marina, the weather has been great. How can you complain about winds less than 10 kts along with a flood tide to push you north on the Chesapeake? We had the tide all the way to our marina. 

We led a parade northward out of Norfolk

Along the way, we saw huge cargo ships anchored in the Chesapeake, about a dozen, waiting, I guess, for a spot to dock? We passed two cargo ships on our way from Norfolk. They were doing 15 kts and we had to time our passage across their bow so as to not interrupt their travel. Regardless of that, we did see several small boats that I though were way too close to the big ships but that’s up to the captain. 

Our home for the next three days, nice floating docks!

With the good winds and fair tide, we made it to Dozier’s by 2:30 (leaving Norfolk YC at 8:15). We are now in the last stages of our season, somewhat sad. We need to clean the boat tomorrow and I have to change the oil and filters along with the associated fuel filters to get Fleetwing ready to go in the fall. 

We are putting Fleetwing on the hard at Stingray Point Boat Works which is a DIY yard so I’m allow to work on Fleetwing myself. Some yards do not allow the owner to do his own work but Stingray does. So Wednesday is a work day and Thursday is a packing day. Then it’s over to Stingray to pull the boat, after which, we’ll head north. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Norfolk Yacht Club - at a dock


Waiting at Great Bridge for an opening

We took a casual approach to leaving this morning, not until 9:00 am, we only had 21 NM to go. When at the bridge, I noticed a drone hovering nearby. Who could that be? I later found out that it was from the couple we met last night. They were still at the free dock waiting for parts and flew the drone to capture footage of us going through the bridge and up to the lock. See the link for the video.

Many aircraft carriers in for refitting 

We made all the bridges and railroad bridges without any delays (what’s all the fuss… ? Ha..) We counted ourselves lucky and motored on to the Norfolk YC for a dock. We made it about an hour before the storms came roaring through with winds to 40 kts! We saw it coming and I tied everything down but 40 kts is still pretty strong no matter how well things are secured.

The Norfolk YC is just fabulous. Here’s a typical room but there’s several restaurants, many other
Meeting rooms, presentation halls, etc. Immaculately done.

We are getting close to the end of our winter ICW trip. Our last day will be on Tuesday when we move along to Deltaville for three days of packing before hauling Fleetwing at Stingray Point Boat Works and leaving for New York in our car which we stored there over the winter. It was a good season even though the winds were much worse than our experience in previous years. We are already looking ahead to next year, a return to Key West.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Free dock before Great Bridge - tied up


The couple on the boat ahead of us on the dock had a Great Dane!

All the water levels are back to normal after the strong north winds finally stopped. It was a calm day to for the ride to the free dock just south of Great Bridge. A couple that tied up before us helped us to the dock. We exchanged boat cards and didn’t think anything of it but then he came back a little later and said, “Oh, you’re that Bob”, meaning Bob423, the one with all the tracks they’ve been following (we get that a lot). We had a long talk after than on boating. 

A town councilman visited too - he said they were going to add WiFi and electricity to the docks

Then we had a visitor from the local town council who was planning to buy a boat for the first time so we had a lot to talk about. It’s fun meeting people along the ICW. All boaters are nothing if not enthusiastic.

Such a pretty area for a hike

One of the reasons we like stopping here (other than the free dock) is the nearby park with hiking trails. I always take a hike and explore the area. It’s mostly level and the trails are well maintained in a woodland setting. I didn’t see any insects, just a nice walk. 

The bright sunshine through the leaves gave a magical quality to the scene. 

We have a short day on Monday, only 21 NM to the Norfolk YC where we will stage for our last leg to Deltaville on Tuesday. We have reservations at Dozier’s for three days before haulout on Friday at Stingray Point Boat Works. Then it’s home to Lagrangeville, NY.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Coinjock - at a facedock, packed as usual but with a prime rib dinner!


Packed in, as usual in Coinjock

The forecast said rain all day but it cleared in the morning with heavy rain expected later in the day. The winds were light across Albemarle so we ventured out anyway. There were storms all around us but they all missed for the most part. Once again, the forecast was foreboding but the promise of bad weather was not fulfilled. That’s all right with us! It turned out to be one of the smoothest rides across the Albemarle we’ve ever had. 

We had a great dinner of prime rib

We were one of the first to arrive at Coinjock so we got an inside dock. They were busier than at any time in the past that I remember. Every second boat had another boat tied on the outside, including us. Rafting was the rule, not the exception. This was in addition to the tightest packing of anywhere on the ICW. The anchor of one boat will typically overhand the dinghy of the one in front. 

We met the restaurant manager who described the cooking process.
The prime rib roast is slow cooked for 8 hours to rare in special juices prepared just for Coinjock.
The the cooking process is then finished to the customer’s order (rare, medium, well done, etc.)

We took advantage of the Coinjock restaurant, ordering the prime rib for dinner with an appetizer and a bottle of wine. It was a nice evening. We met many boaters who knew of Bob423 and one that even asked for Ann’s signature on one of my Guide books - she’s known as the artist in the family. 

It will be interesting to see how we escape in the morning. The boat in front of us has a rafted boat as we do so it’s not straightforward to just swing out, the rafted boat adds another 15 feet to what you have to clear. We’re in no hurry anyway, we only have 31 NM to go tomorrow to the free dock just  before Great Bridge. We are still on schedule to reach Deltaville on Tuesday, so far. Then it’s home by Friday, we hope. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Alligator River Marina - at a facedock


Is this an omen of good cruising the rest of the way north?

The morning did not start out well. It was rain, rain, rain until 11:00 am. We had decided in advanced that 11:00 am was the drop dead time. Anything beyond that would result in a day’s delay. As luck would have it, it finally stopped raining right at 11:00 am so we got a late start north. 

We requested and received a facedock which is much easier for Ann

Our stop was to be Alligator River Marina, 41 NM distant. With some trepidation, we head out - there were more storms predicted for the afternoon but we didn’t see them. In fact, the afternoon was great with sunshine and light winds. The Alligator River was flat, no  problem there. On the way in, I saw a blip at 4.9 MLLW but just one spot and very quick. It could not have been more than a few feet long. On both sides of that blip, it was 8 MLLW.

Wilkerson Bridge at 63.5 ft which matches 
The gauge at Dowry Creek Marina
Tomorrow’s forecast does not look good. They are predicting rain essentially all day long - although not much rain, about 0.03 inches per hour. We will take a look at the radar and decide when to go. In confirming our reservation with Coinjock, we were asked if they could pony up a boat to us and we said, “Fine”. Then when in the Alligator River Marina, we met the couple from the boat that’s scheduled to raft up with us in Coinjock! We’ll see who gets there first. We certainly want a prime rib dinner that night, wouldn’t want to miss that. It’s good to be moving again.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - last day and with a pizza party


The marina at Belhaven is located right downtown

We used the courtesy car today to visit the nearby Winn Dixie in Belhaven. We were pleasantly surprised at how great the store was. It was well stocked and the produce was better than we’ve seen at most other stores along the ICW. We mostly bought just the odds and ends we needed for the rest of the trip north, not a lot.

And there’s a place to gather

Before coming back, we toured Belhaven and the marina there. Today it was mostly empty. The Dockmaster said the majority of the boat left that morning. The docks are fixed but they are just about at water level compared to Dowry Creek where the docks are level with the top step on your boat. I prefer the docks at Dowry. 

Back at Dowry Creek, there’s no room

Returning to Dowry Creek, we found the place was packed. There were people on the waiting list to get in. I guess the word has gotten out. The bad weather may be unlucky for boaters but it’s a boom to marinas. Even when 15 boats leave on Friday, there’s an equal number of boats going north and stopping tomorrow night at Dowry Creek. The flow northward has started! For us, it’s Alligator River Marina and then Coinjock the next ay. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - Happy Hour!


The Bob423 burgee is spreading along the ICW!

Hopefully, this was our last day of high winds, at least according to the forecasts. We’ll shop for groceries on Thursday and then aim to leave on Friday for Alligator River Marina. The marina makes it easy here for shopping since they have multiple courtesy cars for use by transients. 

As usual, the person taking the photo was not in the picture,
But here he is.

We were invited over for Happy Hour at “Last Mistake” with other boaters trapped by the high winds. We had a great time talking “shop” on boating and our plans for the future. I don’t think anyone is moving on the entire east coast due to the spring storm. It does seem to be calming down some even now. 

Here’s the famous gauge at Dowry Creek Marina! The numbers 
Refer to the clearance at the Wilkerson Bridge

One thing they have here is a gauge that is correlated to the Wilkerson Bridge which is noted for being less than the standard 65 ft clearance. Many times they are called and asked about where the water is on that gauge. If you’re headed south, the last thing you want to see is a clearance less than your mast! The bridge is at the south end of the canal so there’s no where to go if you can’t clear. Call ahead to Dowry Creek Marina to ask in advance what their gauge says. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - tour of the new restaurant (sort of)


This is NOT the restaurant - it’s a local house on the water, nice.

The winds are unrelenting, a steady 20 kts all day long. There’s no option other than to tough it out, you’re certainly not going to affect the weather! So I thought today was a good day to tour the unfinished restaurant. 

Here’s the restaurant at the present, there’s a lot of work to do yet

I was taken on the tour by the owner who’s doing a lot of the work himself. He has grand plans. The restaurant will seat 180 patrons inside and a greater number outside. He wants the restaurant to be a destination for anyone in the area - and for transients - to find a good meal. He has spared no expense in the building of the facility. It could also be used as an event destination such as for a wedding, it’s that big. 

Here’s a view of the proposed seating area

If all goes according to plan, he’ll have it up and running by the fall migration. He wants it to be the premier place to stop along the ICW in the area. He has plans to add slips for larger boats as well as smaller slips for those who may want to come over just for dinner with a water view. 

Steve and I but he’s the one with all the work to do before the restaurant opening!

We continue to watch the weather and there’s no signs of it backing off until Thursday afternoon. With that, we’re still looking at Friday to move on to Alligator River Marina but the weather rules, we’ll see. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - We see the sun for the first time in days


The store is better stocked than I would have expected at a marina 

The wind is no where near slowing down yet but at least we saw the sun today! Our enclosure in the cockpit heated up real nice, into the 70s which expands the room on the boat by 2x. I updated two Bob423 tracks which took a couple of hours. It requires great care in generating a new track to be sure it’s accurate, a lot of people depend on the tracks.

They also carry fresh shrimp but with the heads on

One of the unexpected attractions in the marina is the excellent marina store. It’s similar to a 7/11 type convenience store but I think it’s even better. They carry a wide variety of goods and concentrate on the types of groceries needed by boaters like milk, eggs, bread, sandwich meat, cheeses, beer, wine, and a lot more. I would say it’s the most complete convenience store on the ICW that’s part of a marina. 

The food staples are well represented 

The WiFi here is fine during the day but on weekends when the wind is howling and everybody gets on the internet at the same time, it really slows down, understandably. Last night, we were still able to stream our shows over Amazon Prime. During the day, it’s no problem. I usually get about 5 to 10 Mbps but it drops to 3 Mbps at night. 

There are many more items not covered like beer, wine, crabmeat, repeatable fast foods, etc. 

The weather forecast has not changed, we are still looking at Friday to leave for Alligator River Marina and the next day to cross the Albemarle to Coinjock. We are delayed but will be making progress soon. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - Cold and windy but we have heat and I do a seminar


What an exciting photo (not!) Gray and dull but at least the wind is out of a protected quadrant. 

The weather is just terrible. The forecast continues to be for winds out of the north at 20 to 30 kts for the next three days at least. I reserved a dock for a week and we don’t plan on leaving until Friday which  will be for a full week of dockage. 

No sunshine but bright colors nevertheless. 

The winds are also blowing water out of the creek and we’re concerned that when we do leave on Friday after five days of a strong north wind, that the water level at the entrance to Alligator River Marina may be too shallow for our entry. 

We’ve been running heaters all day to keep the insides toasty. So far, they’ve been able to keep up with the weather. For a diversion, I did a seminar today on the use of Bob423 tracks and about 20 people attended from fellow travelers that also are waiting for better weather. The marina here remains full. 

This puts a major crimp in our plans on arriving in Deltaville early. Weather rules so we’ll go with the flow. Our internal deadline is to get home by June 1 for a doctor’s appointment for Ann. So far, we don’t seen any problem with that. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Dowry Creek Marina - at a dock


The place is packed! More came in after this picture was taken.

After a quiet night at RE Mayo, we started north again and arrived at Dowry Creek Marina around 1:00 pm or so. A lot of people had the same idea and the place is packed! The owner told me that every slip available was taken. He said it was the first time that had ever happened. 

Here’s the agenda for the seminar 5/8/2022

The driving force behind the demand is the cold front coming down with 25 to 35 kt winds for the next three days at least. The first window we see for leaving Dowry Creek is Thursday and more probably Friday. That’s a long time to sit in a marina, even one as nice as Dowry Creek. 

To provide entertainment for the ones holed up with us, I’ll be holding seminars on topics of general interest for cruisers such as using Bob423 tracks, tips on the use of Aqua Map, and other similar topics each day at 3:00 pm. If we’re holed up together, we might as well use the time constructively. 

So we will be watching the weather report and seeing what day is best to leave. Until then, it’s the seminars, fixing the boat up (are boat chores ever done??), can catching up on Waterway Guide work. This delay is putting a serious crimp in our trip north but nothing can be done about the weather. I will not attempt crossing the Albemarle with 25 to 35 kt winds on the nose!

Friday, May 6, 2022

RE Mayo - at a $0.40/ft dock (with electricity, sometimes)


The docks are sturdy but rough. At least now you don’t have to avoid holes in the docks. 
They’ve been redone with new walkways.

RE Mayo is not a marina. There’s no bathrooms, no showers, no laundry facilities, no help coming into a facedock. You’re on your own docking. The electricity consists of a 120 v outlet. If you hook up, you’ll need a adapter for 120v standard plug to a 30 amp marine boat connection. Even then, the line to the docks is only good for 20 amps. If you exceed it (or a second boat tries to connect), the circuit breaker will trip and you’ll need to go back to the office to get it reset. We are the only boat on the circuit at the moment and our A/C draws 10 amps which is fine, no problem there. 

This is a view of RE Mayo’s electrical panels. A second boat tried to plug into power and 
It popped the circuit breaker. It’s only a 20 amp line. The guy told the clerk I talked to, “Just go over the 
Reset the circuit breaker” and pointed at this! The clerk said, “No way am I going to fool with that!” 
The guy then walked over, looked for a thrown switch and reset it, I had power again.. 
Want to guess which switch he reset?

On the other hand, the dock only costs $0.40/ft and the electricity (with the limitations above) and WiFi are free. Best of all, they stock blister packs of frozen shrimp for storing away in your freezer, we had some tonight, delicious. They usually have fresh shrimp too but they come with heads still attached - which is no big deal, you just remove the heads and clean the shrimp as you would frozen shrimp. I bought a pound of the largest size, $10/lb. They used to have scallops but no more. They do have local flounder though. 

You need a 120v to boat 30 amp adapter for power. They conveniently 
Provided some string to support the power cord. 

We are expecting big storms tonight after midnight but they’re due to pass through and be done by daybreak. We’ll look for an opening and make a dash for Dowry Creek Marina Saturday morning, it’s only 22 NM north of here. According to the latest forecast, there’s going to be strong north winds for the next four days at least so it looks like we will be staying at Dowry Creek for a while - looking at weather everyday. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Homer Smith - We tour the new clubhouse

Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on this front porch and watch the world go by?

 Tony has spared no expense in building his new clubhouse. I’ve never seen such construction. The guard rails of of 1.5 inch aluminum tubing, very sturdy. None of this stainless steel wiring or stretched nylon rope - this stuff is sturdy. Everything is overbuilt but maybe that’s due to the building codes for hurricane areas? 

There’s a huge area on the second floor that has many possibilities

They are due to move in next week, the builders are still finishing up now. When completed, there will be three bathrooms with showers, all tiled. The laundry room will host three washers and three dryers. There will be a work area and a Captains lounge with a 65 inch HDTV with a wet bar. 

They are undecided on just what to do with the upstairs, that’s TBD. The front porch has nice rocking chairs with a view of the marina. Tony just added another set of docks for small boats, each slip has a lift so the boat is stored out of the water. He’s going to have everything paved when done and he’s already thinking about improvements. 

For me, it seems a perfect place to host a “Going South” seminar next fall with an Aqua Map workshop in the afternoon and the Going South presentation after dinner. The last one I had scheduled had to be cancelled due to covid but not this one coming up. I think we’ve learned to live with covid by now. Besides, if it’s really bad, we’ll hold it outside. 

We will be off to RE Mayo Friday morning but it looks like we are going to be holed up at Dowry Creek for a few days until the predicted north winds abate. No schedules when cruising in the ICW.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

Not sure of what they were doing but they seemed enthusiastic.

 It was a long day, 54 NM but we left at 7:00 am and made it to Homer Smith by 3:00 pm. The morning was calm but the winds came up in the afternoon, 20 kts and higher in gusts. Luckily, the winds were mostly behind us so it didn’t pose a problem. The Bob423 track was good all the way, no problems there. 

You can’t see the ocean anymore from G65A, just north of New River on the ICW

We heard firing activity in Camp Lejeune and were passed by marines on the ICW but we were not delayed. In the 12 years we’ve been doing this we’ve never been delayed passing through this area yet. 

The new clubhouse is almost ready! Just a few tiles to adjust. 

Homer Smith is a good place to take on fuel and to get a pump-out which we did. Our slip was waiting for us and the directions and slip number with an attached map were emailed to us the previous day so we knew in advance exactly where to go. I wished all marinas did that. 

The new clubhouse is done! It’s not quite ready for use yet, they have to replace some of the tiles in the bathrooms but it’s otherwise ready. I’ll take a tour Thursday and report back with photos on how it looks. We’ll do our last provisioning Thursday using the free courtesy car provided by the marina and use the free laundromat, busy day.