Monday, June 23, 2014

Norfolk weekend

Not very long ago, I was talking about our radar and how we had learned to use it and had come to depend on it. So, naturally, it quit this week. We were fortunate, really, that it chose now to roll over and die. Cruising around the Chesapeake doesn’t require a lot of radar. We weren’t cruising at night. We did use it one foggy morning but we would have survived without it.  If we had been offshore at night around commercial and recreational traffic, this would have been much worse. As it was, we were wrapping up our trip and on our way back towards Norfolk on a clear, sunny day when the message ‘Antenna not rotating’ popped up on the main unit. Oh well. One more thing for the list.

'SeaClearly' at Norfolk Waterside Marina
'American Rover' to the left, 'Spirit of Norfolk',
and the USS Wisconsin to the right

We had a fabulous weekend in Norfolk. We were docked at the Waterside Marina right up next to the Bayou Boogaloo Festival, as planned.  We arrived on a hot Thursday and sat through an awesome thunderstorm that evening. We were docked right across from the ‘American Rover’ whose masts were much taller than ours. We convinced ourselves that she would afford us some lightening protection. Turned out, the main consequence of the storm was a welcomed 20 degree drop in temperature.

The marina was nice enough and very convenient.  We did pay a premium for docking there on an ‘event’ weekend. We felt a little ripped off when only half a dozen boats actually showed up. The marina guys seemed surprised at the light turn out. But our location did provide a launching spot for some great activities.

Crawfish by the pallet!
Junie and Reagan playing in the fountains
Friday afternoon, Dusty, Holly and grand-daughter Reagan came to visit us at ‘SeaClearly’. We hit the festival for some crawfish, etouffe, roasted corn, funnel cakes and lemonade. Reagan enjoyed playing in the fountains in the park and crawling around in Roux’s cabin on the boat. Later that evening, we caught up with our neighbors, Deb and Ron, for some New Orleans music (and one more funnel cake). Bayou Boogaloo seemed to be a good time for all and went on for the entire weekend.


Emily, Tyler and big guns of the
USS Wisconsin
On Saturday, Emily and Tyler came and treated me to a Father’s Day outing (since we were up the Bay last week). I got brunch at D’egg and then did the Nauticus and USS Wisconsin tour. I love breakfast out and had wanted to get to see the battleship so it was perfect. We had a great time. Tyler and I share some interest in history and we both seem to be veritable compendiums of trivial information. I am not sure that Emily and June are as impressed as they should be.

Saturday night – dinner with friends John, Sherry, Tom and April at 219 Bistro. More good food, wine and company. They made the mistake of asking us about our life and travels on ‘SeaClearly’ so they got more stories and information than they ever wanted. We are always happy to share our adventures.

Sunday morning brought some rain. We had a very slack schedule anyway so we slept in (all the way until 7:45 am!), slowly organized ourselves, did all of our preparation checks and cast off at around 11:00 just as the clouds moved off. We were only planning to move to Great Bridge. That would make it, roughly, a two hour trip with two bridges to wait for an opening and then the locks at Great Bridge. It was a very pleasant motor with constantly improving weather. We cleared the Locks and sidled up to the south-side free dock before the Great Bridge Bridge by 1:30. 

Everybody gets a down day.

We are going to hang out here for a couple of days because the east wind will have blown all of the water out of our home harbor. No rush to get there until the wind switches and (hopefully) brings the water back on Wednesday or Thursday. Tomorrow, we will move down the ICW to the North River and anchor until we get word from our neighbors and Water Spotters, Jeff and Jan, that we are clear to run in.

'SeaClearly' from the Great Bridge Bridge
looking towards the locks.
We have enjoyed sitting here, watching the canal and locks traffic and watching the bridge operation. We did, again as we did on the way north three weeks ago, walk to Three Amigos Mexican restaurant. It is a little over a two mile round trip but well worth it. Especially when you throw in the stop at Walgreen’s for some pints of Blue Bell ice cream. And then, Panera’s for breakfast and some free internet this morning. Ah, the life of a cruiser.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's the people...

Tuesday night.  We were well into the preparations for leaving Solomons on Wednesday morning. The dinghy and motor were lifted and secured.  We went out on to the deck to enjoy the cooled down, 85 degree, late evening for a few minutes. A dinghy came tooling along so we waved. They waved back and we waved back again. Friendly is good. With that, the dinghy slowed and turned toward us. So began a wonderful, unexpected evening.

We started talking with these folks about the usual cruiser stuff. Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going? We were having a very pleasant conversation and then they said, ‘Come on over and have a cup of coffee.’ Well, our dinghy was already stowed so they said, ‘No problem, come with us and we will bring you back later.’ And we went with Bev and Dave to their Krogen designed trawler-ish boat ‘Cloverleaf’ (Dave, sorry if this is a bad classification for ‘Cloverleaf’. She is too special for me to categorize). For the next several hours, we talked, heard about their adventures and their plans. Their philosophies and love of life threaded neatly through the stories without being spoken. Mementos were pulled out of cabinets to reinforce the tales and added to the wonder. We truly enjoyed the evening. Well into the night, Dave ferried us back in the dark to ‘SeaClearly’ so we could finish preparing to leave at dawn – only hours away.

Now, Bev and Dave are in their eighties. People like them are our inspiration and proof that you can keep enjoying your life and doing cool stuff. We laughed about our shared habit of never quite managing to take videos of events. Bev’s justification – ‘If you are busy living your life, you never find time to go back and look at them anyway.’  And, they are living their life.

Leaving Solomons - early morning.
This is the square-rigged ship that
we saw two weeks ago in Norfolk
waiting to launch
That nice evening made getting up before the sun just a little easier. We were anchor-up and gone at first light. We had sails out as soon as we cleared Solomons and kept them out for hours. Originally, the intention was to head to Fishing Bay, just below Deltaville, to anchor for the night. But the hot weather, long hours of daylight and the potential for thunderstorms on Thursday had us, once again, revising our plans. We traveled over 90 miles and drifted back into Old Point Comfort, near Norfolk, in the last few minutes of twilight. By the time we got the anchor down, it was dark. A long day after a short night and we slept very well.

Today, we moved over to the Waterside Marina a day earlier than we had reserved. It was 97 degrees. As we are coming to a dock, we always have the planning discussion – what line do you want to secure first? Today, our first response was, ‘Shore-power cord! Get the AC on!’ We actually went with the mid-spring line instead.

Three headsails, apparently, required for admission.
One surprise as we pulled in – there was only one other sailboat in the marina and it had three roller-furling headsails. Usually, it is easy to spot ‘SeaClearly’ in an anchorage or a marina because that is a pretty unique arrangement. Neither the owner of this boat (a Southern Cross) nor I know exactly what to call this rig. It could be a Cutter Rig with an added head sail. It could be a Solent Rig with an added staysail. Or, it could be, as this guy described it, a Furler Farm.

Shortly after, we met our second experienced, inspirational cruiser-couple within 2 days. John and Sue are only in their seventies - but they have a lot of tales to tell. We have already enjoyed meeting them and we have a couple of days to hear more of their travels. We had always heard that the best part of cruising is the people and it truly is.

Speaking of people, we expect to start seeing a lot around here tomorrow. Son, wife and grand-daughter, and daughter and hubby, neighbors Deb and Ron, friends John and Tom with their wives (whom we haven’t met yet) all expected. Can’t wait to see them.  Also, the entire turn-out for the Bayou Boogaloo Festival will be right off our stern. Should be a good time – family, friends, Cajun food, Norfolk Harbor. Sweet!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Solomons Island

First, a few more pictures of sailing down from the Chester River and the two CR42s rafted up in Harness Creek. It has been fun to compare and contrast the two boats up close. Thierry had ‘Curlew’ built after owning many boats including a Cabo Rico 38 immediately before. So, he had some very specific design requirements, ideas and preferences. The folks that originally had ‘SeaClearly’ built were, probably, natured more like us. They included the generator, AC, a big arch for solar and wind power, an electric winch and a Code 0 light air sail on a third roller-furler. All of those things except the Code 0 were on our wish-list when we went boat shopping. As we looked at the pictures of the two boats side by side, sometimes the similarities stand out. Other times the differences seem glaring and obvious – well, at least to Cabo Rico owners.

SeaClearly sailing down the Chester River
headed across the Bay to Harness Creek
Curlew dodging a ship near Annapolis
 - actually, it was anchored.
Both boats left Harness Creek and headed south for Solomon’s Island at a reasonable morning hour on Monday. It is about 45 miles. Kind of a medium traveling day. As usual, there were many boats of every kind out moving around on the Bay. The wind was predicted, very accurately, to be light and coming directly from the south. We expected to motor all day. Never great - but much easier to take since we had a nice sailing day the afternoon before coming down from Rock Hall. And, we need to start making our way back south.

‘Curlew’ and ‘SeaClearly’ paced each other about 300 yards apart for several miles. Then, the independent-minded crews had different ideas on the best path to Solomon’s. ‘Curlew’ started fading to the east while we hugged the western shore for the view of the upcoming Calvert Cliffs. It was a very pleasant day of eating lunch in the cockpit and watching the scenery. The wind picked up some but was still right on our nose. We guessed that Thierry, who by now was out of sight, was probably planning, at some point, to turn and reach back across the Bay.

We were entertained by the jets from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station as we made the turn to Solomons. This was our first time coming into the harbor and we were not quite sure what to expect. We were taken aback by the number of sailboats. We motored slowly around just looking and then looking for a spot to anchor. There is no shortage of places to anchor. It is always just a bit confusing on your first arrival. We finally picked a spot and dropped the hook. But, somehow, when we settled back on the chain, we were uncomfortably close to the marina docks behind us. How does that happen? We thought we had dropped where we intended but didn't end up where we expected. I sat in the cockpit watching the situation for a while and pouting. Junie, eventually, slapped me in the head (figuratively, of course) and reminded me of our lessons over the last couple of years. ‘If you don’t feel good about where you anchored, pick it up and do it again’. So we did. It was pretty graceless, fraught with mis-steps and watched by many. But we did get moved, set and felt much better about leaving ‘SeaClearly’ anchored when we left to meet Thierry for dinner at the Dry Dock Restaurant.

Today, the story is – HOT! We took the dinghy for a ride this morning to look around. By 10:30, it was hot. By the time we tied up at the dinghy dock to walk the mile-each-way to the Food Lion for some groceries, it was scorching. But, we made it, got back to the boat and cooled off. Then we spent the really hot part of the day at the Calvert Marine Museum soaking up knowledge and the AC. Very cool place for both.
We got back to ‘SeaClearly’ and needed to charge the batteries a little. Or, we justified running the generator by saying that. And, as long as the generator is running, it is best to run it under load. Perhaps we could run the AC? Alright!

So, here we sit in the cool and comfort while it is sweltering outside at 6:30 in the evening. Our plan is to be up and out early in the morning. With the forecast calling for even hotter, we want to make progress before it gets too bad. After that, I guess we make progress while it is really bad. Either way, we expect to be just south of Deltaville tomorrow evening. We have had a great time with our Cabo Rico buddies but we bid Thierry good-bye and the rendezvous wraps up with ‘SeaClearly’ heading south and ‘Curlew’ heading back north. As one of the folks, Tom, said ‘Friends were made, lies were told and wine was spilled, what more could you ask for…’

Monday, June 16, 2014


A common sight - happy Cabo Rico owners
What an incredible weekend. We had a gathering of Cabo Rico owners at Lankford Bay Marina near Rock Hall, Maryland. Now, there are not a lot of Cabo Ricos. And, they are scattered all over the globe. As such, it was a small - but enthusiastic - gathering. Lankford Bay is the home marina for Leslie and Clayton ('Tango' - CR34). Tom and Cheryl have a CR38 undergoing extensive refitting just down the road. Thierry brought 'Curlew', CR42 hull # 12 over from Baltimore. And, us - 'SeaClearly', CR42 hull #14. We had an excellent time. We swapped Cabo stories, ate way too much, drank in moderation (of course) and laughed a lot.
An more unusual sight. 3 Cabo Ricos. 'Tango', 'SeaClearly', and
'Curlew' (at anchor in the distance)

I conned Thierry into helping me tune my rigging a bit. Thierry is a real sailor with years of experience and years of Cabo Rico ownership. He can tell me things about my boat from 100 yards away that I would never see. Tom even showed up with some Cabo Rico apparel to pass out which really made us feel like an organization.

On Sunday morning, the 3 boats on site went out for a sail on the Chester River. What a beautiful sight! Although, of course, we are a bit biased. 'Tango' returned home but 'Curlew' and 'SeaClearly' headed out across the Bay. Thierry is going our direction for a few days. We had a nice sailing day again. Thierry got to play with his new mainsail. We got to watch him sail away from us.

Harness Creek
This may be the first time ever that two CR-42s have been
rafted together. There were only a handful built. 
Is it relaxing? Ask Thierry.

Last night, we rafted up our two, beautiful CR-42s in Harness Creek. Being Sunday evening, we had to weave through the remaining power boat rafts to find a spot. Thierry dropped the hook and we slid in beside him. I gotta tell you, these two boats rafted together is a pretty sight (if somewhat heavy. I am sure Thierry is glad we had settled weather last night). By 9:00 pm, the creek was quiet and nearly empty. This morning, we hope to get some pictures and then both boats are off to Solomons, MD for a couple of nights.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Celebrating the Chesapeake

There is always something to learn on a boat. Sometimes, it is a small thing – like accidentally discovering a quick shortcut to measuring distances on the iPad navigation software. Sometimes it is bigger and more critical. You learn a lot about yourself. Maybe it is because you have more time to notice how you act and react. Maybe it is because you just get put into so many situations that test your personality. Life moving a sailboat can be stressful, dangerous, embarrassing and tiring. Those are all really bad influencers on the decision making process. Every time you get through one of those situations and perform well, you feel better. Rising to the occasion can really improve your confidence. Sometimes, you struggle. Then, you get to have a ‘growth  experience’ – that’s where you get to question every aspect of your abilities - but that is not the subject today. You also learn to let yourself be happy. If something works out well, celebrate!

This morning, we are celebrating. We are sitting in Lankford Bay Marina, just off of the Chester River – across from Annapolis and near Rock Hall, Maryland. We are here for a small gathering of Cabo Rico owners and boats. We are just happy to be here. Not because we survived a calamity or nearly lost the boat or anything of the sort. In fact, this trip up the Chesapeake Bay has gone very smoothly so far. In many ways, it has been a confirmation of the things we have learned over the past couple of years. Our confidence with handling the boat and dealing with situations has grown (see ’growth experience’ above). We are probably at that dangerous phase of our sailing career where we may get cocky and screw up.

We moved up the Bay pretty quickly once we left Gloucester after Junie’s birthday on Sunday. Monday morning we were out early, sailed out of the York River and turned north. We anchored that night in Little Bay just north of Deltaville. We expected to be nearly alone in a fairly isolated spot. Wrong! We were the last of 20 boats to show up.

We were also the first to leave in the morning. The wind had died at the end of the day before and was predicted to remain dead. We had decided that, since we would have to motor all day anyway, we might as well crank out a long, fast day and see how far we could get. So, we postponed our planned stop at Solomon’s and set our sights on Herring Bay. The anchor was up and we were gone at 5:20 am.
We made really good time. We crossed the mouth of the Potomac River which can be a nasty place in the wrong conditions. It is the second largest water contributor to the Bay and it is a long ways across. For us, however, it was a mild and uneventful experience. We blew past the turn for Solomon’s by noon and just kept cranking. Up past Calvert Cliffs, we got some excitement for a while. We heard the severe thunderstorm warnings from the Coast Guard on the radio and, shortly thereafter, saw some dark clouds sneaking up behind. We took down the sails we had been flying to motorsail, put some assorted electronics into the oven for lightning protection, and strapped everything down.

The approaching storm was clearly visible on our radar. When we first got SeaClearly, we knew nothing about radar. We were convinced that people had joined together in a large conspiracy to lie about how much you could see – storms, markers, boats. We, typically, saw purple blobs. Seemingly random purple blobs. The concept of actually seeing a squall and avoiding it by looking at your radar was hard to grasp given our experience. But, with a little research and some cramming with the operator’s manual, we had tuned it up, made some adjustments and dialed it in. It became the invaluable tool we had heard about on our winter trip south.  Yes, you really can see markers (which aren't always on the charts), small working boats in the fog, fast sport-fishers closing from behind - and rain.

Storm coming!
Yellow = land
White = water
Purple = rain!
Now, in the Chesapeake Bay, we see the squall on the radar. We can easily see which way it is going. And, we can see that we are in the only small area across the entire width of the Bay that is not being hammered. Even where we were, it got incredibly dark. The water turned coal black. The wind gusted some but not much. However, not far away there was some serious action.  There was a classic storm-on-the-water view with a wave of curling white clouds rising ahead of an ominous deep grey storm that looked like it was flattening the Bay. We barely even had raindrops. We scooted out from under our clouds and back into the sunshine having squeezed through a quarter-mile wide corridor.

30 minutes after the storm
By hour 12, we were passing Herring Bay and had decided to just keep going to Galesville. After all, it is June. We have over 15 hours of daylight so let’s burn it! So, at a little before 8:00 pm, we arrived in the West River and anchored not too far from Thursday’s restaurant for a very quiet night in the middle of a small town. We covered a large portion of the Bay in our long travel day.

The next day, we only needed to move around the corner to Harness Creek. We had plans to meet up with Junie’s friend John and his wife Debbie. They were going to bring their boat out to meet us at anchor later in the afternoon. Which also gave us a large part of the day for something really special.

Sailing the Chesapeake off
of Annapolis
We went sailing. Yes, that’s right. We just went sailing. We took SeaClearly out for a play day on the Chesapeake. The winds were out of the southeast at 12 – 18 knots, seas were minimal. We put up the full rig and went whatever direction felt the best. We played with different sails. As the wind clocked slowly around, we sailed near the wind, reached across the wind and sailed downwind. Annapolis and the Thomas Point lighthouse provided the backdrop for a great day. After all the cruising, motoring, bashing and ICW running we have put her through, SeaClearly deserved this and so did we.

We finally turned toward Harness Creek and, this time, we were alone in a, surprisingly, isolated spot. We were in a cove just off of the state park. Our view off the bow was just trees. The view behind did include a few of those quaint Annapolis-area waterfront homes. OK, not quaint. Keeping up with the Jones’ in this neighborhood would be impossible. John and Debbie cruised in and rafted up with us. Junie made pizza (obviously, not too hot outside) and we had a nice evening. 

Yesterday morning (Thursday, for those of you that still use calendars - sorry), we left our anchorage with the intention of picking up a mooring ball at Rock Hall. It was damp, foggy and threatening rain at 7:00 am but we got the anchor up and all of the thick grey mud cleaned off the chain. The rain came moments later. We could ‘see’ several other boats on radar and AIS. We could ‘see’ the Route 50 Bridge on radar but not with our eyes. The large, southbound container ship that showed up on AIS announced his intention to pass under the bridge. We called him, told him where we were and he indicated we would do a starboard-to-starboard pass. Since his starboard side is much bigger than ours, we swung away from the channel and waited a few minutes until he came looming out of the fog.

It rained all day and got progressively harder. By the time we reached the turn into Swan Creek at Rock Hall, we had changed our minds about our destination. As Junie said, the vision of picking up a mooring ball and taking the cute trolley around Rock Hall wasn’t looking so good given the pouring down rain. We did a hard turn and headed for the Chester River to arrive at Lankford Bay Marina a day early. Our friend Thierry (Cabo Rico 42 # 12) was already anchored in Swan Creek and expecting us. Junie texted him to let him know about our change in plans. He had already seen our course change on his AIS and knew we weren’t coming. But, we would be seeing him tomorrow.

We made a stop at the fuel dock (in the rain), then swung around to our slip (in the rain)and cleaned up the boat (in the rain). Last night, we tried to dry out. We got off of the boat for the first time since leaving Gloucester on Sunday. We did some laundry and took long showers at the marina. And, finally, I get to catch up on the blog. From our slip, we can see another Cabo Rico. Today, there will be more – maybe only a few but it doesn’t take too many Cabo Ricos to make a rendezvous.  I think I see the sun! Time to celebrate!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

On to Yorktown - well, across from Yorktown

We are docked at the York River Yacht Haven in Gloucester, Virginia. It has been a glorious weekend. And, Junie's birthday! The weather has been perfect. Several people have commented that 'We deserve some nice weather after the miserable winter!' We don't have the heart to tell them that we were in Florida and the Bahamas and missed most of the bad stuff.

Great Bridge
But, to back up a little...
We fueled up in Great Bridge early on a beautiful, still Friday morning. During this process, we found out that we were heading up to Norfolk just in time for Harborfest! Apparently, we did not do a very good job checking schedules. Harborfest adds a lot of craziness to an already busy harbor. Our plans to anchor at Hospital Point probably needed some adjustment.

Tall ship awaiting launch
in Portsmouth
We caught the 8:00 am opening of the Great Bridge Bridge - we did did. We passed immediately from there into the locks for the 18" drop to the Elizabeth River along with 3 other sailboats and 2 trawlers. We all dashed to the next bridge (the Steel Bridge) for a 9:00 am opening and so on and so on. Up the ICW toward Mile 0 at Portsmouth. Before long, we were arriving at Portsmouth and Norfolk. This is such an interesting area. The ships and military contingents add a big-ness to the scene. We slowed down to take in all of the sights. We also did a slow pass by Waterside Marina to scope out the set up for when we come back here in two weeks for the Bayou Bugaloo Festival.

 But, on this Friday morning, it was all about HarborFest. Tents were going up, banners were flying. Police, Military Police and Coast Guard were already on patrol. Although it might have been interesting to park right there in the midst of the celebration, we decided not to anchor at Hospital Point. Our back up anchorage was Old Port Comfort near Fort Monroe. As we passed out of the inner harbor, we began to see a lot of boats ahead. Once again, coincidence provides cooler experience than planning. The entire HarborFest Parade of Sail was headed right at us! We were privileged to see an entourage that included several tall ships, classic boats and the USS Cole, replete with her decks lined with sailors in their dress whites. It was a wonderful procession.

Pride of Baltimore

USS Cole

After that, we dodged a few large cargo and container ships and crossed over to Old Point Comfort. We were the only boat there when we arrived at 1:00 pm. It was a great anchorage. Well, there was some sort of cable tender platform that ran a diesel generator 24-7 but it helped cover up the traffic noise from I-64. OK, it was an average anchorage but the noise didn't bother us or, apparently, the 8  boats that showed up. We had dropped about 150 ft of chain  in 15 ft of water (we have a lot of chain and we aren't afraid to use it) and the wind barely blew. So, we slept really well without worries.

Morning at Old Point Comfort
The next day dawned, again, picture perfect.  While, technically, I think we entered the Chesapeake Bay the previous afternoon on our way to the anchorage, today would be our first 'Sailing the Bay' experience and we were looking forward to it. Another milestone. We motored out into the big channel towards Thimble Shoals then raised the main, unfurled the genny and shut down the engine. We took a few minutes to relish the moment. There, to our right, was the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel with its two clear entrances to the ocean. The Bay is ahead of us with a whole new set of adventures yet to be named.

Leaving the anchorage, headed towards
the Bay and to the York River
Our mission on this Saturday was to make the short 25 mile run up to the York River.We had plans in place to spend some marina dollars to be parked somewhere for two nights,  to celebrate Junie's birthday on Sunday and to meet up with daughter Emily and son-in-law Tyler. We got a recommendation from Tyler's mom, Tracey, for the restaurant at the York River Yacht Haven so now we have a destination and another addition to our dinner party. Thank you Tracey! The wind got pretty slack so we flew our big Code Zero 160% Reacher for a while. We have that on the most forward of the three roller furlers which makes it really easy, and therefore more likely, to use.

We were docked at the YRYH and hooked up by 2:00 pm. We grabbed some lunch, started washing down the boat, traded banter with our marina neighbors and crashed as the sun went down on Saturday evening in Gloucester. Gotta love these long days as summer approaches! More later.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Great Bridge, Chesapeake, Virginia

It was kind of interesting getting back underway. We made a very graceful exit from the dock, cleared our inlet without running aground, passed the outer marker and headed west across the Albemarle Sound. That is when it occurred to us that we were, basically, picking up where we left off on our trip north. We had come out of the Alligator River and turned east, away from the ICW path, to get home. Now we were headed west, back to the ICW path, to keep going north.

Screens - which we expect to use extensively
up in the Chesapeake at this time of year.
It was a beautiful morning. We put out a staysail (just to satisfy me) as we motored just off of the wind towards the North River and the ICW intersection. It became obvious that, although we didn’t have much company on the Sound, the bugs had found us. We drug out the screens and they were quickly covered in a variety of insects that rode most of the way to Coinjock with us.

Once we were a little ways past the entrance to the river, SeaClearly began to see some new sights. This is the furthest north she has ever been. She was built in Costa Rica, commissioned in Florida, been down the Caribbean chain, to the Bahamas and up the east coast to North Carolina. The Chesapeake Bay will be a new experience for all of us.

We are familiar with most of the stretches of the ICW going up to Great Bridge, Virginia. We have just never seen them from a boat. As you drive north from the Outer Banks, you parallel and cross the ICW in several places. Many times we have looked down off the bridges and watched the cruisers moving on the canal. Many times we have stopped by Coinjock as spectators to view the collection of cruisers and power boats at the dock. This time, we are the cruisers.

The trip was better than we expected. Our aversion to skinny water led us to believe that we would run aground every 3 miles or so. Turned out there is plenty of water as long as you do not deviate from the ‘Magenta Line’. In fact, I (half-jokingly) said that you could probably drive the whole trip without looking outside as long as your electronics held out.

Since we started a day later than we hoped – and since we got a very early start in the morning – we decided that we could probably make it all the way to Great Bridge in one day and tie up at the free dock just before the bridge. There are some timing issues with a few bridges along the way that will close for rush-hour traffic. With a little luck, some bursts of speed (relatively- we are a sailboat, after all) and a cooperative bridge tender at the Centerville Turnpike Bridge, we cleared them all and were nosing in to the free dock at 4:30 pm.

Surprise encounter with Melody and Chris
Free dock!
Now, we had always heard – and have since experienced – that cruising sailors run into each other repeatedly and unexpectedly. As we approach the dock and are jumping off to tie up, a nice young lady shows up to help us. Wait. She looks like – Melody! From ‘Vacilando’! We met her and Chris (and Jett, their wonderdog) in Charleston, hit it off and have stayed in touch (mostly Junie and Melody through emails, Facebook, Women-Who-Sail and also through blogs). We have also run into them again in St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach and just missed them in Fort Lauderdale.  We knew they were headed north but were not sure where they were. Now, we know!

Food Truck Rodeo.
Who knew?

We arrived here at the free dock in Chesapeake just in time for the first-and-third-Wednesday Food Truck community gathering right here at the park beside us. How cool! I didn't even know there was such a thing but there was quite a turn-out.
SeaClearly dwarfed by a barge in the canal.

By 5:00 pm, we have tied up, met old friends, had Fish Tacos and Chicken Empanadas and are settled in for the evening. We are thinking we might sit here one more night to let the thunderstorms go by. Then – north to the Bay! 
Proudly flying our 'Roux' burgee

Chesapeake Bound

When we pulled in to our dock at the end of our Bahamas trip in April, we emptied SeaClearly. She needed a thorough cleaning, disinfecting and restocking. Living on the boat for 6 months takes a toll. Things don’t get the deep cleaning they need. Unused items get shoved to the back of the cabinets. And, just like at home in your refrigerator, some things quietly pass their expiration date and slink to the back and out of sight. Also, we now have a better idea of what we actually used. Some foods just never got eaten, some spices were just not necessary, we didn’t have enough of this or too much of that.

The sad result of all of this is that SeaClearly was stripped bare. She was, clearly, not going anywhere.  Equipment had been carted off, foul-weather gear stored inside the house, refrigerator shutdown, dinghy parked in the driveway. She knew she had been abandoned.

As for us, we started getting ‘itchy sea legs’ after about one week home. Week 2 we began to plan the next adventure. Last year we made an ill-fated attempt to cruise up to the Chesapeake for a Cabo Rico owners gathering. Never ones to be put off by failure, we started the plans to try again.

Junie polished the brass oil lamp. Nice!
In the mean time, April and May were consumed with social events (Mother’s Day, neighborhood summertime kick-off street party, NC Aquarium family trip, Mama Kwan’s, Tortugas Lie, Dinner Party group) and boat tasks (an endless list that will only be shared on request. Teak is always at the top of the list.)

Throughout those passing days, we were working our way towards departure. As the plans fell into place, the gear and bags starting flowing back onto SeaClearly. Maintenance items were crossed off the list, spares were replenished and coats of varnish were laid on.  And, finally, it was time to wrap up the packing, close up the house and wait for a high-enough-water day to execute a successful exit from our homeport of Colington.

June 3. Not enough water.
June 4. Still not enough. Should be covering that ladder rung.
But we left anyway.

As you may know, we have a couple of known indicators of not-enough-water, just-enough-water, and plenty-of-water. We patiently waited for 4 days, then impatiently waited for another day and threw off the lines at 6:00 am on June 4 with about 2 inches less than just-enough-water. It all worked out fine. There were a couple of times when we had NO water under us but we never touched bottom. Just like that, we are off again.
Heading out across the Albemarle Sound on a
beautiful almost-summer morning.