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

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