October 2011 Blog Posts
Belhaven, NC to Beaufort, NC-Day 5

Woke up early and Dad wanted to go for a walk.  I relaxed on the boat for a few hours while he explored the town and bought a new toilet (tupperware pitcher).  We only had 65 miles or 165 miles to go depending on where we went.  We decided that 165 was too far, so Beaufort NC was our destination.  The weather was perfect, very slight breeze and about 75 degrees.  We shoved off at about noon and went to the gas dock one marina over.  I hailed them on the VHF and asked if they had gasoline.  She said “Negative Captain, we are all out”.  I responded with “Bummer.”  I guess I should have known looking at their sign which was pretty much blown away.

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Dad is pretty sure this boat has a 100 gallon tank, but according to the gas gauge it seems more like 75 gallons.  When we filled up on the Chesapeake the gauge showed an 8th of a tank and fit 65 gallons.  So either we have a 75 gallon tank or the gauge is wrong.  Hopefully it’s the latter.  We have a little over a quarter of a tank showing on the gauge, which means either 50 gallons according to dad, or about 20 gallons if the gauge has been right all along.  I looked it up later, and it is in fact a 100 gallon tank, so we were fine.  But at the time I wasn’t so sure.  I wanted to stop at Oriental NC to fill up, but Dad was so confident that he said lets just get to Beaufort.  We made a deal, if we ran out of gas, he would give me $1000 for not listening to me.  With that, I didn’t care either way so onward we went. 

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At some point after cruising for a while, dad mentioned that one of these nights we needed to drink the bloody marys he had prepared.  To which I replied bloody marys are for morning, not night.  So he decided no time like the present and made us each one.  “Just one”. 

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day and four bloody marys later we were feeling great.

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We arrived at Beaufort, NC at about quarter to 5pm.  It’s a beautiful town with lots of café’s etc.  It seems like a great small town to live in.  He hung out on the boat for a while and then went to a delicious little bistro and had some apps and a drink. We decided we were going to go to a few different places and get an app at each one.  The second place we went to was our marina’s restaurant.  We ordered two more apps, including the giant nachos.  We also got 2 free drinks for staying at the marina and cashed our coupons.  The nachos were disgusting, but we ate them anyway.  The view from the restaurant was amazing though and I am sure that is how they stay in business.

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After nachos and sunset, dad decided he was ready for bed.  I decided I was ready for the bar.  So I went and found a bar.  It was huge, but only had 3 patrons.  2 girls and one guy.  They reminded me of the type of people who would be on the Jerry Springer show.  I didn’t even try to break into their weird idiotic conversation.  I was drinking my beer and I puked a little bit of nachos in my mouth and decided that it was also time for me to go to bed.  So I left my half remaining beer and went to bed.

Great Bridge, VA to Belhaven, NC-Day 4

The day before, since we didn’t get very far I made a bet with Dad.  If it was over 70 we would just go to Coinjock, which put us another full day behind.  If it was under 70 we would cruise to Belhaven, which was about 120 miles away, a little further than we planned for any one day.  As you can tell by the title of this post, it was under 70, supposed to get up to 68.  So we would go to Belhaven.  We did however have one giant body of water to cross, the Albemarle Sound.  The people we talked to the day before said to be careful there, they had crossed in there 70’ boat once and actually had water splashing over the flybridge.  On our little boat that would definitely be too rough.  So when we got to Coinjock we would stop and see how it looks. 

Oh, forgot to mention, at some point the night before I fed the toilet a bunch of used beer and pushed the flush lever and half of it went down and then a it back fired and shot used beer all over me.  That was the end of the toilet.  It doesn’t work anymore.  Dad is peeing in a water jug now, and I, being the Jacksonville redneck that I am, just pee over the side.

We topped off the fuel tank and resupplied our cooler with beer at the gas dock.  When I started the boat to head on our way, the engine buzzer wouldn’t turn off.  Something was wrong.   This made me nervous and reminded me of Explorer Spring Break 09.  The oil pressure was fine, the temperature was fine so we had no idea what it could be.  We were a quart low on engine oil, so we added one.  It made no difference, the buzzer kept sounding.  Dad, against my better judgment added another quart of oil.  No change.  We got out the owners manual, and there was only one other reason the buzzer goes off… Low drive oil.  Sure enough, it was a little  low, so I filled it and it solved the problem.  And we are off.

The ride to Coinjock was very nice.  We had to get under our 2 bridges which took the better part of an hour.  This is the Centerville swing bridge opening.

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Once we got past the bridges, it was narrow cuts for a while, then it opened up to a wider river.  There was a slight chop in the river, maybe 1/2 foot but we were following it so it didn’t affect us at all. 

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Once we got to Coinjock, we checked the fluids again and topped off the tanks.  The drive oil was a hair low, but I think that’s were I left it last time, or maybe the drive sucked some of it down.  Nevertheless I topped it off right to the full line so I had a point of reference.  The engine oil was of course a quart overfilled which isn’t good, but not much we can do about it now.  Toilet still is broken.  Dad asked the fuel dock people about Albemarle Sound.  The guy said that its usually about 3 times what we just went though, but that the waves were heading south, so once again it would be a following sea which makes for a much smoother ride.  That added up to 1.5 foot chop, nothing to us after the 7 foot seas in the Chesapeake.  So we decided to go for it. 

Here is a small house in Coinjock.

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3 times bigger my ass.  There were probably 6 foot seas and the waves were headed south, east and north.  We were getting it from nearly all sides.  And we had about 20 miles of this.  I tried my best to read the waves and keep our speed up so we could get it over with quickly as possible.  Our speed dropped by 10 mph even though the throttle was about the same.  20 mph for 20 miles, we had about an hour of this, but it wasn’t scary like the Potomac was, just uncomfortable. 

After Albemarle Sound we entered the Alligator River which is still pretty wide open but much less sloppy.  The waves were about all the same size as in the sound, but they were uniform and following so it was much nicer.  The river narrows and eventually we get to another canal and we figured once we made it there, it would calm down considerably.  But before we did, the winds really picked up and it got a little violent.  Luckily we weren’t in the Sound at this point, I don’t think we would have made it.  This area was much more sheltered so the waves weren’t bad, but the wind was howling and it was hard to control the boat.  The wind kept pointing the bow wherever it wanted regardless of the direction I turned the wheel.  We didn’t have much of this however because we arrived at the canal, which is protected enough that there was virtually no wind.  We slowed it down and cracked some beers.  Time to relax again.   

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The sun was out, we lathered up in sunscreen and relaxed.  This was the nicest part of the trip so far.  From the entrance of the cut, to our destination, Belhaven, it was about 30 miles, most of it in this cut.  We cruised at about 8 mph for about 2 beers, and then kicked it up a notch for a while.  Dead calm and 30 mph it was awesome.

IMG_0648  On the other side of the cut was Pungo River and then shortly after was Belhaven.  Pungo River is pretty wide and pretty deep.  We passed a bunch of sailboats and enjoyed the ride.  It did get a little rougher and a little wet, but at least it was warm.  I even had my one sweatshirt I brought off for the first time.  The air was warm, the water that splashed on me was warm so it was all good. 

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We arrived at Belhaven at about 4:50 and relaxed on the boat for a while.  We listened to some tunes and lightened our cooler a bit.  Tied up next to us was a MacGregor sailboat and two older gentlemen on board.  One of them had something wrong with his hip, and one leg was about a foot shorter than the other.  Not to be rude, but it was pretty funny looking.  We also met another gentleman who was on his 58 foot powerboat.  It was basically the same setup as our boat, except much larger.  Oh and it had 3500 horsepower and cruised at 45 mph.  He was heading to St. Thomas, his home.  I asked if we could sleep in his two spare staterooms.  He didn’t really respond.

IMG_7263The sunset was at about 7:30 and was gorgeous.  At about 8pm we decided we should head into town and find some dinner.  We wandered all over the place and everything was closed.  I guess this town closes down at about 8.  After a couple mile walk, we came back to the boat and reheated some spaghetti and talked for another hour or so.  We decided it was good that everything was closed, spaghetti was just what the doctor ordered.  We lightened the cooler a little more and called it a night.  Overall a very good day.

Deltaville VA to Great Bridge VA, Day 3

We woke up in Deltaville feeling pretty good, my back has been bugging me, I think because of constantly ducking to avoid getting a freezing blast of water to the face.  Sleeping in the coffin they call an aft cabin on this boat probably didn’t help at all.  The marina at Deltaville was very pleasant, I think that if we did this trip in the summer it would be packed and very fun.  It was quite however this time of year.  Our goal when we left was to go to a place called Coinjock.  We had some of the biggest waters of our trip on this day to get from Deltaville to Norfolk.  After Norfolk however it was all skinny channels so we figured we would be home free if we could just make it there.  We hugged the western shore as much as possible, but it was difficult because there were a ton of flats and sandbars so really we were pretty far out and it was rough, but nothing like the day before.

At around noon we arrived at Norfolk.  It just so happened that as we were heading down the channel 3 Navy destroyers were headed out to sea.  We looked them up on our phones and found that these ships were something to be reckoned with.  I would not like to be on the receiving end of these ships firepower.  They have surface to air missiles for blowing up buildings, surface to air missiles for blowing up airplanes, and torpedoes for blowing up ships and subs.  And its all hidden from view, it could be a scientific ship for all you can tell from the outside.

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This stretch of Norfolk was mostly military or commercial shipping docks.  We cruised slowly through here and had a few beers to celebrate the calm water and protection from the wind.  It was extremely relaxing, in fact, it was the first relaxing time underway of the entire trip.

I have never hung out in Norfolk, but it looks like a very nice area.  This picture is downtown.

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Once we left the more industrial area things became more natural and unpopulated, but there are, we realized quite a few low bridges and we weren’t entirely sure if we could make it under them.  Who would have thought we would have to wait for drawbridges in a boat this small.  This bridge was really close.  We had about a foot to spare.

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As we cruised the channel we eventually came upon a lock.  Who would have though there would be locks in the intracoastal since boat sides are connected to the same ocean, but I assume its to keep the currents down.  There was less than a foot between the two sides.  We timed the locks pretty well, there was one other boat, a very large one in there with us.  Immediately after the locks is a drawbridge that has a 4 foot vertical clearance.  No way we were making it under that.  But apparently they time the opening with the locks. 

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Here you can see the difference between the two sides of the lock.  Almost none.  I am used to the Seattle locks where there is around a 20’ difference.  Right beyond the locks you can see the super low drawbridge.

Once the locks opened the larger boat went first and we followed.  The larger boat tied up to a public dock that we assumed is for people waiting for the drawbridge, so we followed and tied up there too.  Once we get through this bridge, there are two more drawbridges that open on the 1/2 hour, and they are about 1/2 hour apart at slow speeds, so it would be perfect.  Then we would be on our way to our destination at Coinjock, which is about 35 miles from the locks.  We got though the locks at 3, and figured an hour for the drawbridges, and then half hour-45 minutes to get to Coinjock, plenty of time before sunset.

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Dad went and talked to the people on the larger boat, a very nice couple and found that they weren’t waiting for the bridge, they were staying the night.  So basically we screwed up, the bridge didn’t open because we didn’t pull up to it.  Damnit.  This bridge opens only every hour with the locks, so we had to wait until 4pm.  The Centerville bridge, the next one, is closed from 4-6 for commuters.  So basically we missed our chance… if we waited until 6pm we wouldn’t make it to Coinjock until after dark, and we definitely don’t want to cruise these unknown waters in the dark.  So we ended up staying in Great Bridge.  So we tied up and got down to emptying our cooler of some beer weight.  We heard there was a fun bar/restaurant right across the canal from the bridge, so we decided to wander up there.  By the time we got there we were both a little saucy, but we managed to order some more beers and get some chicken wings in our bellies.  After we ate, I talked dad into playing some Golden Tee.  He isn’t nearly as good at golden tee as he is at real golf.

I crawled into my coffin at about 11:30 and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Annapolis to Deltaville MD, Day 2

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Woke up at about 6:30 a little stiff and sore from the previous day.  Was excited for coffee and a good aggressive teethbrushing.  We took our time and planned out our day.  We knew the weather would be a little rougher than the previous day so we wanted a good plan of attack.  The previous day the winds were 5 to 10 knots out of the west, and this day they were supposed to also be out of the west, but 10-15 knots with gusts up to 20, so we knew that it would be a bit rougher and colder.  We decided we should leave as soon as possible to try to catch the calm early morning before the winds picked up and get as much distance as we could before that happened.  Dad needed to drink his coffee so he could “go to the bathroom” so we didn’t get out of port until 9:20.  When we departed Annapolis it was fairly calm, about 5 knot winds with a wispy fog rising from the warmer waters. 

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  Once we got out of the harbor, the winds picked up a bit, but we were pretty sheltered by the land on our western side.  We hugged the coast as much as we could, but it was difficult because there were a lot of flats and sandbars.  We made pretty good time.  There was plenty to see, there are a ton of lighthouses in the middle of the Chesapeake, some in use, some abandoned.  But its interesting to see them.   These used to be occupied by a permanent groundskeeper back in the day, I think they are automated now, but I couldn’t imagine spending my life in this kind of isolation.

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Things went pretty well since we were mostly sheltered and the only sketchy thing we had to deal with was the Potomac river.  Its not that big of a river so it should have been fine.  Except, that the winds were coming from the west and its wide open to the west.  Dad decided to take over the helm before we got into there, and while he is a great boat driver, I think his age might have taken a little of that skill away.  The rollers started getting bigger and bigger, and he kept saying, “I think we should think about heading back.  This is getting a little rough.”  I kept telling him to keep on trucking, we are headed towards shelter, to go back we will have to hit all this mess again.  He said that if it got any rougher, he would head back.  I told him no, we are more than half way, to go back would be crazy.

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Unfortunately pictures don’t do it justice and you can’t tell how big this is, but there were 10 foot waves, 15 foot apart.  The stern of this 27 foot boat were cresting a wave as the bow was trying to dive under the next wave.  They were just slightly too tall or this boat was too long.  But once we had deep green water blow over the bow dad decided he had enough and he tried to turn around.  When we did we were broadside to the waves and he realized that back wasn’t an option.  So instead of heading west into the waves, we headed southeast following the waves.  This meant we had a much longer time to reach the shore, but we at least weren’t diving under the waves and it was much calmer in the cockpit.  Once we got to the other shore about an hour later (12 miles) things calmed down significantly and we were again making good time.  We decided we would stop at Deltaville, about 20 miles away… the gas gauge was half way between 1/4 and empty.  We have a 100 gallon tank and that should mean we have about 13 gallons.  On perfect seas this boat gets around 2 miles per gallon, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but in these rough seas we have been averaging about 1 MPG.  Dad made a bet, how much fuel would we fit in the tank when we arrived at Deltaville.  He said 25 gallons.  I said 3.5.  But really, in my head I was thinking: Deltaville, we aren’t making it there; we are beaching the boat and asking some nice neighbor if they had a gas can.  Anyway, we made it to Deltaville and refuled, and we only fit 68 gallons.  So in reality, dad knows the gas gauge is wrong and let me worry the whole way.

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The marina where we made a reservation looked more like a service center so we stopped at a different marina named Doziers, which in the prime of summer I bet is rocking, there is a huge BBQ section, a pool and a big fire pit with adiorandac chairs.  It was very nice. 

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We asked about food, and they didn’t have any, but the dockmaster called the owner of a nearby restaurant called CoCoMo’s and the owner came and picked us up in his giant Dodge pickup.  Super friendly people in Deltaville and would definitely recommend it.  CoCoMo’s was delicious, and had regular American fare.  I got a cheeseburger and it was delicious.  While we were waiting for our food we played Barrel of Monkeys.

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I am definitely better at barrel of monkeys than dad, I suppose that’s because of all my practice as a kid.  He had never seen it before.  After dinner, the owner took us back to our marina and we hit the sack.  It was about 8:30.

North East MD to Annapolis

 

Well, where to start.  My father and I are in process of taking a 1997 Sea Ray Sundancer 270 from North East Maryland down to Jacksonville Florida.  I flew up to Philly from Jacksonville on September 30th 2011.  The weather was calm and sunny and we stopped and had a cheesesteak in Wilmington Delaware, ate outside in shorts and a tee shirt.  IMG_0536Our boat trip started October 1st, Saturday at around 11:00 am. 

It was cold and cloudy but at least not rainy or windy.  As we shoved off it still seemed like we would be in for a nice pleasant journey, even though it was about 20 degrees cooler than the day before.  We cruised South West from Cara Cove and once we passed the terminus of the Susquehanna River the water turned bright brown and there were logs everywhere.  Not just middle of the road firewood mind you, there were full length trees in the water.  Some of them over a foot across and 20+ feet long.  Some of them were just logs, but they were huge and water logged so they hovered just below the waters surface, a little scary. 

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We decided we better go slow.  Apparently with all the flooding up north they had opened up all the dams wide open to drain the upper river which meant that all the flood debris was directly in our path.  But luckily we didn’t have far to go to get to the main channel of the Chesapeake.    The day was looking nice and the water was relatively calm… there was even sunshine.  It wasn’t as warm as I would like, but it was pleasant.  Once we got to the open water we ate ham and cheese sandwiches and enjoyed the beginning of our trip.  The driftwood was gone and all was good.  Right away however, we saw a pirate ship.  Not a very good omen.

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We decided we needed to get gas at a small marina town called Rock Hall on Maryland’s eastern shore.  It is not far from our starting point, but we only had half a tank and it was a perfect place to fill up so we headed there.  About a half hour into our journey towards Rock Hall the clouds came in and the seas got angry, 6-7 foot seas very close together.  The wind was coming out of the west and we were on the eastern side of the Chesapeake, so we had no shelter.  IMG_0561

Dad was arguing that we should stay there.  I said hell no, its only 40ish miles from our starting point and without the driftwood and rough seas it was only a little over an hour from home.  Our plan is 100 miles a day, and this was not going to cut it.  I put on the marine weather channel on the VHF and they said that each day was going to be a little worse than the previous, and I said that making slow progress is better than no progress, because we would be stuck in Rock Hall Maryland until Wednesday at the earliest if we went with his plan.  Dad was adamant, but we ended up compromising.  After we filled up with fuel, we would at least go to Annapolis, which is a half hour further if the seas were calm.  They were rough, so we figured an hour more. 

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Once the tanks were topped off we headed towards Annapolis.  It was brutal.  Couldn’t go fast because it was too violent, couldn’t go slow because it was too wet.  So we went inefficiently in the middle.  Worst gas mileage we could do, but it was all we could do to keep the bottom of the boat in the water.  Every wave we hit (they were about 12-15 feet apart) made a nice sized splash, and since we were headed south west and the winds were coming out of the west, the water splashed out away from the boat, and the wind blew it right back at it and came over the windshield and splashed me in the face.  Needless to say I was soaked.  Once we got to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge it seemed like we were close to Annapolis.  But in reality we weren’t.  And of course Dad said “It could be worse, at least it isn’t raining.”  Murphy’s law said I should punch him in the face for saying something like that.  Luckily for him, it didn’t start raining.

We decided that we better hug the western shore so we would have some shelter from the wind, and it worked, it just took forever to get there at a comfortable speed of 10mph.  Once we did, it calmed down considerably.  We eventually got to the bridge and then we were pretty sheltered as we neared Annapolis harbor.

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There were Navy guys out on sailfishes hauling ass in the gusty winds.  We also saw more than one sailfish keels pointing up and Navy guys pointing down.  Even though I was soaked, through and through, at least I wasn’t one of the Navy guys.  It also wasn’t too cold out…yet.

We arrived at Annapolis and docked the boat without incident. 

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IMG_7237I changed into dry clothes and we hit the town.  First we went to a Piano bar, but the piano didn’t start until 8pm… since that is our bedtime we figured we probably wouldn’t get to see piano bar goodness. 

Next we went to an Oyster bar and ordered 2 beers and a dozen oysters.  Yummy, they were delicious.  IMG_7241This place was pretty cool.  It had trees growing inside and a glass ceiling, and it was packed to the gills.  We then ventured on to see what else we could find, and of course, since its what I always do, we stopped in an irish pub and got a few more beers.  I stuck to bud light and Dad got some Nitro beer.  Since Irish food usually isn’t very good we ventured on to Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs.  It a giant place on the 2nd floor overlooking the harbor.  Dad ordered the Steamed seafood festival and I the Fried Seafood something or other.  They arrived and were huge.  There was way too much food and we decided we should have just ordered one of them.  With our belly’s overstuffed we headed back to the boat and went to bed.