Friday, June 29, 2012

8 Days in DC

Capitol City Yacht Club:  can't say enough good things about it.  It's within walking distance to everything.  At $2.00 per foot, it was more reasonable than a downtown hotel, parking fees, etc.  The facilities---great!  They had 5 new washers and dryers ($1.50 per load), very nice shower rooms with soap & shampoo dispensers, a hair dryer, and a separate makeup area, much like the IVY Club.  The staff, from Debbie in the office, to Robb at the bar and Kelvin the dock master, bent over backwards to accommodate us.

  Many of the members were prominent DC citizens.  We met one congressman from NYC.  One evening at the bar, we struck up a conversation with a couple.  We discussed boats, travels, etc.  Since they were both retired, I asked what type of work he had done.  Paul was a retired 4 star Admiral in charge of the entire Atlantic fleet!  WOW!  They were a very nice couple.

The flight path to the White House goes right up the river and over our boat.  Flights of various helicopters follow the same route. (low and loud)

The Sights

1.    Tour of the White House – we left the boat at 6:15 AM and walked 1 ½ miles to the White House for our 7:30 AM tour.  After 3 security checkpoints, we proceeded on the self-guided tour of the following: Library, Vermeil Room, China Room Diplomatic Reception Room, East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, and the State Dining Room (my favorite.)  We just missed seeing the first dog, “Bo”, who was returning from his outdoor walk.  The couple just in front of us saw him.
2.    American History Museum--Ron loved it.  You really need more than a day to see it all.

3.    National Gallery of Art-- after our initial visit, I went back two additional times.  My favorite gallery was that of the French Impressionists.

4.    Natural History Museum--we saw the Hope Diamond and many other famous gems; the Wildlife photography was fantastic....and we were allowed to take pictures!

5.    Tour of the National Mall Monuments--Jefferson, FDR, (skipped Lincoln-- too hot and too many steps, and we'd both been there before) MLKing, Korean War, Vietnam Nam, WWII.

6.    Capitol Tour--thanks to Representative Aaron Schock (Illinois 18th District) we saw the White House and the Capitol.  The Capitol is amazing (history, artwork Brumidi corridors, sculptures)!    We sat in on a House argument on loan guarantees.  Our tour guide/intern Eric, from NJ, had been on the job for only 2 weeks.  He is a Poly Sci major from Cornell. 
7.  Botanical Gardens

8.    June 28th--the Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare was read at 10:00 am.  We arrived outside the Supreme Court Bldg. shortly afterward and saw the proponents and opponents in a rally.  Michelle Bachman was at the microphone.  Later in the day, Congress announced that Eric Holder, Atty. General, was charged with Contempt of Congress.  What a historic day to be in DC!


After a wonderful week in DC, we headed back down the Potomac.  Temperatures are predicted to be near 100 degrees.  We can run the AC with the generator while underway....we may need it today.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Up the Potomac

6/18/12. We left for the Potomac on pancake flat water. God is good! The river is wide and deep, and our ride was uneventful to St. Patrick Creek, Maryland (Colton's Marina). There was plenty of water for a boat with 4 foot draft. We were happy to be "up a creek" in a protected area since there was a small craft advisory for this area from 6pm to 6 am.

6/19/12 Waters were calm as we headed for Tim's River House. Along the way we saw a large brown skate (ray) along side our boat, too quick for a camera shot. As we passed Quantico and got closer to Tim's, we realized that this would not work as an overnight dockage....their dock projects way out into the river and you have to dinghy in for dinner. So we continued on toward Alexandria. We chose a marina on the Maryland side because it was 1/2 the cost. This marina had a shallow creek entry and limited amenities, but it was ok for one night.

6/20/12 We jumped across the river to Alexandria, Va for one day so that we could see Carol Oberle Hora....a good friend who recently moved here from Colorado. Her husband Mike works for the postal service union. Very hot here...99 degrees. We had a late lunch with Carol and had dinner at an Italian restaurant on King St. Lots of tourists on the dock and on King St. There is a free trolley between the waterfront and the Metro. Easy to get to DC if you wanted.

6/21/12 We went from Alexandria to Capital Yacht Club in DC (20 minutes by boat). It was already 90 degrees at 10:00am. This marina is convenient to everything, either walking or biking. And the Metro is only 1/2 mile away. For people with dogs, there is little nearby grass. Duke is terrified of the city noises, especially garbage trucks and buses. One boat on our dock has its own pool....yes...a baby pool floating on the water next to their boat.

. Lost track of the number of helicopter flyovers here at CYC. POTUS (we're guessing) had to be in one of them one time or another. We were told they fly in a group of three to keep you guessing.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yorktown to Deltaville, VA

We stayed at the Yorktown County dock for convenience to free shuttles, but this dock is subject to winds and currents. Two evenings, sea spray went completely over the docks for hours on end. We both found Yorktown (both the state and national park sites) to be very interesting. Due to the rough weather conditions, we were stuck in port until the 16th, but we had several trip highlights. Peggy and Denny Tresenriter, friends from Illinois, posted on Facebook that they were in Williamsburg, so we called and met them for dinner at Gloucester and had a good time catching up on news.

Ron, Jan, Denny, Peggy

The 14th, there was a music festival on the shore near our boat, and on the 15th, we saw a submarine going down river, not far from where we were docked. According to a local tour guide, the subs go up river for ammunition and provisions before heading back out.

Ron finally got to see a sub...close up
Which one is General Washington?

  6/16/12 We finally got a break in the weather. Seas were predicted to be 3 feet (average wave height) and we had checked the marine weather and three buoys with real time wave info. At 0630, we headed out to the Chesapeake and knew right away that reported wave/ wind conditions were inaccurate. Winds were out of the northeast, so at least we we're getting pounded on the bow or quartering off the bough. We think waves were at least 5 or 6 feet (average). We would ride to the top of the wave crest and then the boat would drop (SPLAT) to the bottom of the trough. It sounded as if every weld would come apart. This went on for 6 hours and we had to tack several times to keep the waves on our nose or our stern. When the waves hit the stern, we actually surfed and the speed would pick up from 6 to 12 mph. This was the roughest ride we've had in this boat....and Adagio was still in good shape when we pulled in to Deltaville's Dozier's Regatta Point Marina.

 The grounds and clubhouse are very nice...laundry, showers, pool, and loaner car ( a 1970's Buick Stationwagon big enough for a family of 12). The windows and AC didn't work, but it got us to the grocery store and back. 6/17/12. Many boaters pulled out today after they had spent a week waiting for a weather window. The marina had a special breakfast for boaters (Grandma's peach French toast).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Georgetown, NC to Yorktown, VA

5/31/12 Georgetown to Ocean Isle Marina (Sunset Beach, NC)
The water turned brown on this part of the trip as a result of the tannic acid from the cypress trees. As we passed Myrtle Beach, there was an over the water cable car system....which we believe was to take golfers from one side of the course across the ICW to the other side.  At Ocean Isle marina, we tied up along the outside wall.  It was an OK marina with minimal services.
6/1/12 Sunset Beach to Wrightsville Beach
It was rough on the Cape Fear River, but we had following seas for 8 miles so it was tolerable.  Entering Wrightsville Beach marina we had 25 mph wind gusts during docking.  This marina is very exposed to a southwest wind and the tide was coming in rapidly, too.  We went to the wrong place for dinner.  We were looking for pub food and ended up at an expensive restaurant by mistake.  From the outside, it looked casual. 

6/2/12 Wrightsville Beach to Swansboro
By morning, the seas were calm.  There were several low bridges and some only opened on the hour.  Timing was everything.  At a very narrow channel, we met a small oncoming barge on a declining tide.  The waterway guide at Figure Eight Island Swing bridge (278.1) was listed as a 65 foot bridge, but in reality, it was only 20 feet.  We have no problem with bridges of 15 feet or higher. 
Our marina was at Caspers @ Swansboro.  We were on the face dock and they had good dock help.  Fuel was $3.25 +tax.  We went to an Irish restaurant because of the recommendation in Active Captain....someone had written that it had the best tenderloin ever.  Well,  We never found out because they only have them on Sundays.
6/3/12  Swansboro to Oriental
Whitaker Point Marina
Before leaving Swansboro, we saw a big shrimp boat run aground...guess he just wasn't paying attention.  He went straight instead of turning right up the channel.  The tides in the next 24 hours are expected to be very high/very low due to the moon phase.  We came close to Beaufort/Moorhead City, but decided not to stop.  Instead we went on to Oriental because the weather looked good.  On the Neuss River it was very windy.  For a few miles we had a beam sea.  Pulled in to Whitaker Point marina ($1.00 per foot + $5.00 for electricty)  It was one of the nicest marinas we've seen.  the club house was 7 years old and had a pool and free loaner car with no time limit.  The laundry and ice were donation honor system.

6/4/12 Oriental(Whitaker Point Marina) to Bellhaven  (Dowry Creek Marina)
We pulled out early since we knew we would be on a large body of water today.  We meet many boats with AIS.  This helps us identify the boat by name and track it's course to see if we will intersect at any point, giving us the option of changing course. Saw couple of barges, several large yachts passed us going the same general direction. Dowry Creek Marina was very nice (pool and tennis courts)a few miles from town. We took their loaner car to town for a late lunch and a few groceries. We ended up at Hardee's because the other restaurants were either closed or out of business. This town seems economically depressed. The marina liveaboards invited us to a 5:30 get together and we met several nice couples. The owner of the marina bought it several years ago with her husband, but now operates it alone. Since she's owned it, the marina has been affected by two with an 8 foot surge.

6/5/12 Bellhaven to Elizabeth City We knew this would be an 80 mile day, since we wanted to get to Elizabeth City to rent a car and go to a great niece's graduation. The Albermarle Sound bridge will not open if winds are higher than 30 mph. When we arrived, they were at 20. The bridge opened and the Sound was immediately rough. We altered our course to avoid beam seas, taking us way off course and adding distance. Duke nearly lost his cookies on that ride and we were all glad to pull into our slip at Pelican Marine. There is a free dock in town, but we knew that we would be gone for a few days, so we felt the marina was more secure. The marina charges a flat fee of $35 per night regardless of overall length.
At least the wind was off the bow most of the time, actual peak was about 35 mph
6/6/12 We drove to Richmond for Brianna's high school graduation from Cosby High School (a health science academy). This is an impressive school with a very talented class. 475 graduates/ 177 had GPAs of 4.0/class has earned $5,942,000 in scholarship money. Brianna has a full scholarship to a school in Michigan for both academics and synchronized skating. We had a great time visiting with family before returning to the boat.
Brianna, headed for college with full scholarship

Brian, Brianna, and Denise
Kim, Brianna, and Stan
Brianna and Chris

6/8/12 After breakfast with family, we returned to Elizabeth City. sailboat races were scheduled for morning, so the dock was full of late night parties.

6/9/12 We departed at 0630 so that we could arrive at the lock into the Dismal Swamp at 0830. We arrived with just a few minutes to spare and proceeded in with a sailboat and power boat. Dismal Swamp is a is a quiet canal with trees and wildlife...very pretty, but it was extremely hot (90's).
Not Dismal at all

We stopped half way through to let Duke have a break at the Visitors' Center.
Duke's impression of the Dismal Swamp
The lock letting us out of the canal opened a bit late so we hurried to get to the scheduled opening of the next bridge. There are two bridges....a railroad bridge and then a low bascule bridge. We got there just in time, but the railroad bridge was stuck in closed position. The bridge tender operates two bridges and was several miles away. He had to be transported to the RR bridge....took an hour before it finally opened. It was just a few miles to our Ocean Yacht Marina in Portsmouth across from Norfolk. Our slip was right in front of the HMS Bounty and the Kalmar Nychel, two of the many "tall ships" at Op Sail 2012. Marinas had raised their prices for this event ($2.75 per foot) with a minimum stay of 2 nights. Op Sail was free, so we toured many vessels on both sides of the river. The ferry shuttle was only 75 cents each way. The Saturday night event culminated in a great fireworks display.
"Cuauhtemoc" Mexico
6/10/12 We toured tall ships from the following countries: Spain, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Columbia. We think the South American ships were competing over who had the largest speakers.  We really enjoyed touring a new Norwegian frigate, HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl and the Coast Guard bouy tender "William Tate." Did you know that Coast Guard ships have black hulls if they are construction boats? It was in the mid 90's....very hot. While on the Gloria, the Columbian boat, I waited as Ron went below to look at their quarters. As I stood there, I recognized an approaching couple....Brian and Jean Whidby, fellow loopers from Great Britain. We hadn't seen them since last fall on the Tenn-Tom. AN AMAZING COOINCIDENCE!
Jean, Brian, & Jan aboard "Gloria"

6/11/12 Ron woke up at 0530 hearing military loud speakers from across the river. Two Navy ships were preparing to leave port. A pair of large tugs helped them back down the river towards Norfolk wheret they turned around and headed out. They were accompanied by Coast Guard and water police. You must keep your pleasure crafts back at leat 100 yards or the security boats will come out to remind you. As we headed out to Chesapeake Bay, a Navy fueling ship left harbor and passed us at 14 knots. It was flat calm on the Chesapeake until we pulled in to Yorktown. This area has very strong currents and the afternoon winds picked up right after we docked...good timing.
Two of these ships were berthed right across the river from us, leaving Portsmouth Harbor just before us.
6/12/12 We took the free shuttle to Williamsburg and spent the day. We attended " America's music" with Scottish master fiddler John Turner and learned several facts. We did not have a national anthem until the 1930's. The three choices for our national anthem were: 1)America the Beautiful 2) Yankee Doodle 3)Star Spangled Banner. Did you know that the Star Spangled Banner was originally a Scottish drinking song, but Frances Scott Key's friend recognized that the metered verse fit the music of the drinking song. Yankee Doodle was a song of ridicule .... Yankee meant little person in Dutch and Doodle was German and meant fool. John Turner played several fiddles and flutes during the show, while sharing a narrative history. Storms may keep us in port for a few days....hope the water calms down so we can leave. We have tickets to tour the White House on June 22nd ,so we need to proceed up the Potomac.
Influence of Scottish music on American, very intersting