We left Beaufort around 8 am this morning. It was 39 degrees! We need to move south! The winds had died down to a reasonable level for us to make our way south to Swansboro. However, before we depart we had to take care of pumping out the head, which is very full. We made our way over to the pump out dock and since it is early in the season, apparently no one has used the pump out all winter. Where do all these people empty their heads? Mike on the dock tried to get the pump out functioning however ultimately he was unable to do so. But we really need our head pumped out. We called around to other marinas in the Beaufort area and apparently no one has a functioning pump out. We finally called ahead to Swansboro to see if we could just pump out there when we arrive. There are 4 marinas in Swansboro and there is only one pump out in the whole town and they have to call the guy to come in to do it. But they seem willing so we took off with a full holding tank to get pumped out in Swansboro.
The route along here is very rural with a few houses scattered along the ICW and the the traffic is very quiet. About halfway through our route to Swansboro we spotted our first dolphin on the ICW. Those dolphin are quick though so no pictures unfortunately.
The wind and current picked up as we came into Swansboro. Our friend Ed texted us that he rode in motorcycle to Swansboro and was waiting on the dock to greet us. How nice! We pulled into the Church Street docks to get our holding tank pumped out. Called the lady at the office and I mentioned I spoke to her earlier in the day about pumping out when we got here. Well….it was a different lady and the first lady didn’t say anything to the second lady about a boat that needs a pump out. At this point I begged. She took pity on me and called a guy to come down to pump us out.
After we got settled, we called Evelyn to have her drive down and come join us and the 4 of us shared dinner aboard Painkiller. So much fun to see them and spend time together again.
It was still pretty cold and the wind was 25 knots gusting to 30. We were supposed to stay at Casper Marina next door to Church Street docks however, we didn’t feel like moving the boat again in this strong wind and very strong current, so we stayed at Church Street for the night.
Shortly after Ed and Evelyn left us to head home, we saw a black cat that came walking down the dock. The cat was walking with purpose and came right over to our boat and climbed aboard and started walking around and checking out the place. I think she was disappointed that we were not a fishing boat. She was very friendly and well fed. As soon as she determined we didn’t have anything for her, she left as quickly as she came.
We also watched this trawler come into the area. He came in when the wind was really up still and the current was strong. He kept heading over to a low fixed bridge and we were all wondering, where the heck is he going? He turned up at the last minute and it was clear he was struggling once he turned against the current to head the other direction. For a few minutes we thought for sure he was going to get swept into the bridge. He gunned the engine and struggled to head up against the current but eventually made his way before he dropped the anchor for the night. Whew! That was stressful just watching. It’s all calm now, but here is the boat.
And here is the bridge
We called it a night and plan to leave in the morning. I fell asleep and was awoken around 12:30 am to the sounds of loud talking/yelling, red flashing lights and a spot light shining in our bedroom window. I got up to see what was going on. Not really sure of what is happening, all I see is a sailboat that appears to be anchored just in front of the big trawler pictured above. I also see a smaller fishing type boat that has red flashing lights and a spot light. They keep circling the sailboat. What are they up to? Thinking the sailboat was anchored, I then noticed that the boat with the red flashing lights was leaving the area but the sailboat started to follow in behind it. At first I thought the boat with the red flashing lights had snagged the sailboat’s anchor and were not towing them out with them. Then I realized, towing….oh….he’s towing the sailboat. They flashed the spot light once again at our boat and it appeared that the boat with the red flashing lights stopped towing the sailboat. He then came along side of him and started to push the sailboat right toward us! That’s when I woke Mark up. You have to see this! I thought they were going to hit our boat. However as they got closer it became apparent that the boat with the red flashing lights was towboat US and they were pushing the sailboat to the dock just ahead of us. Clearly someone on the sailboat is not having a good day and something is wrong that they can’t get to the dock themselves. They got the dock and tied up the boat. The Towboat US boat left and things quieted down for the night so we went back to bed.
In the morning we are headed to Mile Hammock Bay to anchor and I guess when we get up we will have to ask the people on the sailboat what happened.
During our dinner preparations last night, we ran out of propane. We carry two 10 lb propane tanks so when one tank runs out during dinner we can simply switch to the other tank. However, we always want to ensure our spare tank is full so today’s agenda is to fill our spare tank. Thankfully the marina has a courtesy car that we can use. Some marinas are nice that way that they have a car that you can use, free of charge other than gas, to run an errand or go to the grocery store.
Since we headed to town we also stopped at the grocery store across the street to pick up a few perishable items. We got all our items stowed away back on the boat and then we walked around town to find a place to eat lunch. We found a local bar that served hamburgers. If was very much a local hang out and not touristy in any way. Sometime they have the best food. The food here was good but wasn’t anything to write home about.
After lunch we headed over to the North Carolina Maritime Museum. It seems like a lot of coastal towns have a maritime museum. The focus of this museum was on Blackbeard the pirate. One of Blackbeard’s most famous ships was the “Queen Anne’s Revenge”. The Queen Anne’s Revenge was built in 1710 and was 200 ton merchant ship.
It is believed that Blackbeard intentionally grounded the vessel in the Beaufort Inlet as an excuse to disperse his crew and off load his treasure to a smaller vessel and departed the area. The wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered in 1996 and to date 31 cannons and over 300,000 artifacts have been recovered and are now displayed in the maritime museum.
After our museum tour we topped the day off with dinner at the Black Sheep Restaurant. The meal was delicious!
Overnight the rain began with the front that we knew was heading our way. It rained for 28 hours straight! Not just a drizzle but some serious rain for 28 hours. We used this time to organize some areas of the boat, write a blog post and I made a big pot of chili for dinner. Our original plan was to head out tomorrow after this storm front passes by, however looking ahead at the forecast it is looking rather windy and cold for the next few days. Looks like our next weather window for leaving Beaufort will be on Monday. It is spring here in North Carolina and spring brings unsettled weather and multiple cold fronts.
So, the next day we got up slowly and enjoyed our coffee and then headed to Clawson’s just across the street for some lunch. Had a great bowl of seafood bisque on a cold blustery day.
Since we will be here a few days we thought we would tackle a sewing project of making a projection screen that we can hang in the cockpit to watch movies. Mark was checking out how the apeman projector would work and ensure that we could use the bluetooth speaker with it. Unfortunately, he needed a bluetooth dongle to use the speaker, which he did not have. So, he used the marina courtesy car again and drove over to Moorehead City which is right next to Beaufort where there is a Best Buy and he could buy the dongle that we needed. While he was doing that I was planning, cutting and sewing the screen while he was gone. Then we had to install some new snaps to hang it up. Turned out pretty good!
We wanted to test it out tonight but it might have to wait until we are at anchor so we don’t disturb our boat neighbors on the dock.
The next day was a bunch of nothing day. It was cold and windy and we didn’t want to even leave the boat. Finally by evening time we though we should emerge and get some dinner, so we headed to the Front Street Grill. I decided to try shrimp and grits for the first time. I must say they were quite delicious!
After spending a couple of days on the boat we needed to get out for a long walk. We walked to the other end of Beaufort where there are about 3 – 4 other marinas in Town Creek. We want to see how these marinas were for a stop perhaps on our way back north. We also walked along the Russel Slough which is a waterway shortcut of sorts between downtown Beaufort and Town Creek. We wondered if we could get the boat through this area. The charts showed what appeared be a solid black line across the waterway which is usually a bridge but had no other information. There was also a broken black line that we didn’t know what it represented. It was clear after we took a look that the solid black line on the chart represented the overhead power lines and the broken black line represented a bridge that had been removed. We could not find any chart that really gave us accurate information about this area.
We also walked by the historic area of Beaufort with all the historic homes. Many from the 1700’s and 1800’s.
We ended the afternoon with a beer at the Fishtowne Brew House!
Tomorrow we are leaving Beaufort!
First up, you all likely may know there is a Beaufort, NC and a Beaufort, SC. They are spelled exactly the same however they are pronounced very differently. If you mispronounce the city when in the wrong state that locals will not be impressed. So, it’s BOW-firt, NC and BEW-furd, SC. Now that we have all that straight we can freely wander around town without offending anyone.
We left Oriental about 8 am headed south for Beaufort. It’s only about a 4 to 4.5 hour trip. Leaving Oriental the boat is covered in yellow pollen and there are large amounts of pollen floating in the water as well. The boat will need a good washing when we get there.
The considerations for this trip are that south of Oriental we start to experience current along the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). There is also some significant current coming into Beaufort and trying to dock a boat with current can be a bit tricky. We decided to time our departure so we will hit slack tide when we arrive in Beaufort. The dock hands at the marina in Beaufort have assured us of their help on the dock when we arrive. Here is a photo leaving Oriental.
The mornings here are still a bit cool, it was in the high 50’s when we left this morning. We are just get accustomed to boat travel mode once again. We have hot coffee and away we go.
The scenery along the ICW is very pretty.
We had one 65′ bridge to go under today. No problem.
Luckily we didn’t end up like this boat.
We got to the Beaufort Docks marina right about 12:30 pm and slack tide is at 12:20 pm. We had no problems coming in and getting right into the slip. The directions the marina gave us to the slip were all based on the landmark of the 165′ sailing vessel parked at one of the end slips in the marina. You can’t miss it. The instructions were, just come to the stern, turn into the fairway and dock to the right.
After we arrived and checked in, we took showers and decided to walk around town and see what there was to see. We arrived on a Monday and like most towns, we are finding that many restaurant may be closed on Monday or Tuesday. We did find one restaurant open in town, called Finz which was right on the waterfront. It was warm enough in the sun to sit outside and we had a great meal. Sometimes an afternoon meal for us is Linner, either lunch or dinner.
The next day we gave the boat a good wash and I was able to also clean all the eisen glass, that’s the plastic glass for our enclosure. Meanwhile Mark was cleaning up mud in one of our holds that had washed down toward the bilge from the anchor locker. Mark had cleaned the anchor locker a few days earlier and now had to clean up the remaining areas that were downstream.
It was a nice day so we decided to get the dinghy down and the outboard motor because we wanted to explore Carrot Island which is directly across from the marina. Carrot Island is uninhabited strip of land that has wild ponies on the island. It’s part of a nature preserve so there are walking trails and other wildlife as well.
Of course nothing on a boat goes to plan. Before we could go exploring in the dinghy Mark had to spend about an hour fixing the outboard. The outboard won’t start and was leaking a bit of gas. He took apart the carburetor and cleaned it and put it all back together. It seems like something wasn’t seated correctly from the last time he did the carburetor because once it was all back together, it started and ran just fine.
We dinghied over to the island and did some exploring.
We found the wild ponies!
We ended the day with a nice meal aboard the boat and we were both tired and ready for bed early with all our chores and exploring today.
After spending a little over a week with Ed & Evelyn in New Bern it was time for us to say goodbye and head out down the Neuse River to Oriental, NC. We got up slowly this morning, had coffee and said our final goodbyes to Ed & Evelyn and left their dock about 10:30 am. It’s a 4 hour trip from New Bern to Oriental. The canal system in the Fairfield neighborhood in New Bern is large, narrow, shallow with lots of twists and turns. Lots of beautiful homes to see along the way. Here is some of the view as we headed out.
Here is Mark in his native environment! Good to see him behind the wheel doing what he loves!
Of course when we see another Island Packet, which is the model of our boat, we feel a certain kinship with other Island Packets and are obligated to take a photo or try to meet the owners of other Island Packets. No owner this time as we were passing by but got a photo at least. She is a beauty!
The small canals open up to a marshy area along the banks of the Neuse River which is several miles wide. The river is fairly shallow with a average depth of about 8 – 12 feet throughout the whole area. There was little to no wind today, so we motored our way down the river to Oriental.
We docked at the Oriental Marina and Inn right in the heart of town. Oriental is known as the sailing capital of North Carolina. Being such we both expected a bigger town that it really is. It really is a small rural town of about 900 people with a sailing emphasis. The town of Oriental was originally called Smith’s Creek. In 1862 a steamer by the name of Oriental sunk off the coast of Cape Hatteras. The ship was destroyed but the entire crew survived. The post master’s wife of Smith’s Creek thought the town needed a better name. She was walking along the outer banks one day and found a name plate from a ship washed up on shore. The name plate read “Oriental”. She brought the name plate back, hung it up and the town has been known as Oriental every since.
This is our view from the boat at the dock.
After we got settled we decided to explore the town of Oriental. We stopped by several restaurants to check things out for dinner later in the evening. Stopped by a local marina store to browse all the items a sailor might be in need of. We finally found the local brew pub called the New Village Brewery. Everywhere we walked and people we past were extremely friendly and said hello and how ya doing? The brewery was no exception and as we entered the brewery there was a couple sitting on the front porch who said hello and immediately asked us if we wanted to join them. Of course we said yes and we spent the next hour and a half getting to know Joan and Pat Allen who also live aboard their boat and a stuck in Oriental while they are having their fuel tanks replaced on the boat. They are from Kansas and have been boating around the east coast for the last year or so. We had a great afternoon but we needed to head to dinner and get some warmer clothes on.
We had an awesome dinner at M&M’s restaurant. It was recommended to us by some of our cruising friends who are currently in Key West. Thanks for the recommendation Rick and Shauna! It was a great dinner. Over dinner Mark and I were recounting how lucky we feel to be back on the boat, how we will miss socializing with Ed & Evelyn. After we arrived back at the boat after dinner we noticed we had a new boat neighbor. As we walked down the dock, the gentleman on the boat said hello and then immediately recognized us. We had met he and his wife several days before at a restaurant in New Bern. They are friends of Ed & Evelyn and just happened to be on the dock here next to us. In the cruising world, if you meet someone and then see them a second time later, it is like a reunion of long lost friends. We were immediately invited aboard for after dinner drinks and a boat tour. Les and his wife Susanne regaled us with stories of their boat restoration, his work as an author and working in movie production and we admired the beauty and the decor of their well kept boat.
The next day the Oriental Women’s Club had an event on the grounds of the Inn right in front of our boat. It’s the annual Chowder Cookoff! Chowder sounds good to me! There were tents set up and crowds of people to try all 9 chowder entries and vote for our favorite chowder. There was live music and a festive atmosphere. 9 small cups of chowder is just the perfect amount for lunch. We submitted our ballots and listened to the final judging. We all agreed the winner was the chowder from Yawl’s Cafe.
Les and Susanne invited us to dinner with them and several of their sailing friends who were coming to Oriental for the evening from New Bern. We met Stewart and Stephanie who have circumnavigated the globe aboard their sailboat. Joe and Nancy who are newer to the sailing lifestyle and also Matt and Lori who we all just met on the dock in Oriental. We had happy hour aboard Two Peas which is Les and Susanne’s boat and then headed to dinner at a restaurant called the Silos. The restaurant really is in an old converted grain silo. There was a live band playing in the yard in back with a big bonfire going on. It was a fabulous dinner with great new friends. We had a night cap aboard Painkiller. Most everyone was heading out the next day (Sunday). Mark and I were staying another night in Oriental before moving on.
Sunday was a lazy day aboard Painkiller and we did a bunch of nothing. We took the time to settle into the rhythm of the boat and life back aboard.
We left Minneapolis on Wednesday March 9th and are driving a rental car to New Bern, NC to be reunited with Painkiller! To help break up the drive, we decided to stop overnight in Nashville and spend a couple of days with Ryan and Abbie along the way. We arrived in Nashville around 5 pm and headed out to dinner at Edley’s. They are purported to have some of the best brisket in Nashville and I have to say, I don’t think they were lying. It was delicious!
Then we all headed over to Robert’s Western World on Broadway to catch a band that we have heard there before called Kelly’s Heroes. There is a young kid who plays lead guitar that is fabulous! He’s like Prince meets country music. He can really play. We all had a really good time.
The next day we headed to brunch at another great spot called Milk & Honey. Abbie has soo many good picks for restaurants. We then went to a whiskey/moonshine tasting before we hit an escape room together. The escape room was really fun and you will be happy to know we did escape. Our evening activities included a night out with free salsa dancing lessons and salsa dancing for the rest of the evening. We were all exhausted.
The next day we travelled to New Bern, NC to our friends Ed & Evelyn’s house who have been gracious enough to watch our boat for us for the last 4 months. We arrived around 5 pm and they had dinner waiting for us when we arrived. We decided to relax and check out Painkiller in the day light tomorrow rather than tonight.
The next day we headed a street over in the neighborhood to where Painkiller was parked for the last 4 months. It was rainy today and stormy. We spent a few hours aboard to check things out. Got the fresh water system up and running and we were happy nothing seems to broken or leaking. I was able to inventory all the non-perishable food items that I left on the boat and only had to throw out a few items that either leaked or otherwise looked questionable. The most curious item was a perfectly pristine can of ginger beer that was still sealed, no obvious hole or damage but the can was empty! Not sure where that went? Mark noticed our line hanger in the anchor locker had fallen down, so he will need to re-epoxy that back up and fix that.
The wind from the storm was from the southwest and when the wind is from that direction, the water from the canals behind the homes in Fairfield Harbor empties out due to the wind. I guess this time was particularly troublesome and the lowest Ed & Evelyn had ever seen the water. Painkiller was sitting on her keel in the mud and the water was down about a foot from her normal waterline. All the boats in the harbor area were sitting on the bottom as well. We had planned to move Painkiller from behind the house where she currently was sitting over behind Ed & Evelyn’s house to make it easier to load things onto the boat and work on the boat. We would have to wait at least another day before we could think about moving her so we had enough water under her keel.
The next day, we were able to move Painkiller behind Ed & Evelyn’s house. In the meantime, it was COLD in North Carolina! Overnight the lows were in the 20’s for a couple days. Much too cold to sleep on the boat even with a heater, so we spent the first 3 nights comfortably warm at Ed & Evelyn’s house in the spare bedroom.
Over the next several days, we enjoyed dinners, games, some boat work, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, restocking the boat, touring New Bern, meeting friends of Ed & Evelyn’s in the area, drinking coffee and wine and moving back aboard. We can not thank Ed & Evelyn enough for all their hospitality and watching over our boat for us for 4 months.
Here are some pics from our wanderings around New Bern.
Fun fact: Did you know that New Bern, NC is the birthplace of Pepsi?
We have been so thankful for Ed & Evelyn and all they have done for us.
We headed out from the Sassafras River back out into the Chesapeake and into Worton Creek. It about a 22 mile journey however 10 of those 22 miles is just getting out of the Sassafras River. We are tucked all the way back in at the end of the river. There was some early morning fog that we waited to burn off in the morning sun, so we headed out. We have some happy crew this morning!
We were able to throw the jib out on the way down the Sassafras and have that help us along the way with the motor. As we got out into the more open water of the Chesapeake, there was still some lingering fog hanging around.
As soon as we entered the mouth of Worton Creek we hit crab pot-aggedon. They were literally every where! If you aren’t familiar with crab pots they are a wire framed structure that sits on the bottom of the creek bed and has bait in it to attract the crabs to enter the pot. They look like this under the water.
What we see on the top of the water is just a small floating bouy of various colors. Generally crab pots are dropped in a line with several crab pots dropped in the water that follow that line. It looks something like this.
Each crab fisherman has a different color bouy that they use to identify their crab pots. As I said, they are supposed to be in some representation of a line. To be honest, there were so many covering the entrance to the creek it looked like thousands of skittles on the water. Now generally as a boat, you want to avoid running over a crab pot because the line that runs from the bouy to the pot can get tangled in the propeller of your boat which is not good. We were on full crab pot alert! It took all three of us, Mark, Tim and myself to identify crab pots and which way to steer to avoid hitting them. After our discussions at the restaurant in the Sassafras river about a shortage of crab fisherman, we contemplated whether we should just pull up a few and have some lunch.
We were finally able to dodge all the crab pots and head a ways up Worton Creek. We found a quiet little spot to drop our anchor just off the only marina back in Worton’s Creek. We were the only boat anchored there and there wasn’t really room for any more. The depth was a limiting factor and our depth sounder read zero. Here are some photos of the beautiful anchorage.
We just hung out and enjoyed the quiet of the evening, had some dinner and played some mexican train. Tomorrow we will be off to Rock Hall.
After we made it to the Chesapeake Bay, we headed down the Sassafras River to Skip Jack Marina for a couple of nights. The first night we got there we got settled at the dock and had a nice dinner at the small restaurant right at the marina. It was ok bar type food but we were really wanting crab cakes now that we are in the Chesapeake Bay. They said no crab cakes since the labor storages have affected every industry and it seems that the crabbing industry is no different. Not enough workers to go out and bring in the crab traps. As a result, the cost of crab cakes has about doubled. I guess we will have to wait for crab cakes and pick our places to eat them wisely.
The next day we did some boat projects, vacuuming the A/C vents, doing some laundry, etc. We went for a walk around the area.
We saw a guy motoring around in his dinghy in the marina and said hi, so he pulled over and chatted for a bit. His name is Nash and his girlfriend Lisa. They were on a boat anchored out in the river from the marina. We chatted for quite a while and then invited them to come back later for happy hour.
We spent the afternoon taking the dinghy out for a ride to check out the town on the other side of the river. There are about 3 – 4 marinas in this area and a small town. It seems like the nearest grocery store was still a long walk even after we took our dinghy down the river. Just as we were contemplating this, Nash calls our cell phone and says he and Lisa are taking their bikes to the store and asks if we need anything. How nice!! Yes, would you mind picking up some beer and bread please? Awesome!
Here are some photos from our dinghy excursion.
This was one of the other marinas in the area. We pulled up to check out the small store they had there but it was closed. It seems like a lot of places are closed for the season already.
Then we pulled up to Georgetown Yacht Basin. They too had a store there however, this one was open. It was a marine supply store. We always browse around in case there is something we need. Mark remembered that one of the fittings on our A/C broke before and he had a replacement part for it. So, we bought a new one to replace the replacement for next time. Yes, stuff always breaks, there will be a next time.
After we came out of the store, we saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree right near the dinghy dock. I was able to get a good photo of him.
We thought about taking the dinghy further up the river, however there was a bridge up ahead and the bridge seemed rather low to even get our dinghy under it. They bridge can lift however we didn’t want to raise the bridge just to get our dinghy under it.
On the way back to the boat, I took a photo of this boat. We are starting to think about some day, what if we didn’t have a sail boat any more, what kind of boat would you want. I like this one.
After our excursion, Nash and Lisa dinghied over to our boat with bread and beer in hand for a bit of happy hour aboard Painkiller. We learned all about their journey so far and how they recently purchased their boat. They had some engine problems earlier and we chatted about labor shortages that extend into the marine industry as well. Nash said at one point, he call a mechanic who proudly boasted “Guaranteed to call you back within 3 weeks!” Too funny, but at the same time not. We had a great time at happy hour and said good night to Nash and Lisa and will likely see them again along the way as everyone we meet is heading toward Annapolis and then south.
Tomorrow morning we will head to another anchorage further south in the Chesapeake Bay.
The C&D Canal is a man-made canal that is 14 miles long by 450 feet wide. It runs roughly east and west and connects the Delaware River with the Chesapeake Bay. It was completed in 1829 and allowed commercial shipping traffic to transit from Baltimore to Philadelphia and eliminate 300 miles by not having to go around the Delmarva peninsula.
We stopped for the night at Reedy Point which is near the eastern end of the canal so that we could time the tide and current on the C&D to allow for a favorable current to push us along through the canal instead of trying to fight against the current.
We woke up this morning with the intention of leaving around 8:20 am. However, when we woke up, we were fogged in. You couldn’t even see the shoreline in any direction, let alone much past the boat. We couldn’t even see any other boats in the anchorage. We will have to sit tight and wait for the fog to lift before we can get underway.
We calculated that we could leave as late as 12 noon and still hit a favorable tide to transit the canal. However, we are hoping the fog will lift sooner than that so we can be underway. For now, it’s time for coffee!
We didn’t have to wait for too long however and the fog had lifted enough for us to leave about 10 am. Other boats also started to leave the anchorage about the same time. Getting ready to go we flipped on the VHF and heard an announcement that the C&D canal was now open for transit. I guess they closed the canal due to the fog, so we couldn’t have gone if we wanted to.
We were finally underway and dodged the commercial traffic that was headed to the C&D canal as well. Turns out most of the ships. They are big around here.
After turning into the C&D canal we passed under our first bridge at the beginning of the canal.
In total there are 5 bridges that we had to pass under on the C&D canal. 4 of the bridges have plenty of height and we don’t need to worry about. There is one railroad lift bridge that we might need to worry about. If it’s in the closed position we will need to have it raised to pass through. Luckily when we came through that area that bridge was in the open position and we passed through without any issues.
After our boat rage incident on the water yesterday with a boat named Shanti, we ran into Shanti again on the C&D canal. He was going a bit slower than us and we decided to pass him. No way were we passing him between him and the shoreline on the inside, we passed him on the outside and he behaved just fine today.
Before we knew it we were nearing the end of the C&D canal and came upon Chesapeake City. That place with rather full and hopping with a lot of boats. Seemed like a pretty little town. We are heading into the Chesapeake Bay and up the Sassafras River. Here are some views of Chesapeake City as we passed by.
Once we left the C&D canal we were officially in the Chesapeake Bay. Wow! What an accomplishment! We are so excited to be in the Chesapeake and so near Annapolis and looking forward to the boat show. It will be a great experience having our boat here for the boat show. We can hardly believe that we have travelled over 1500 miles by boat through 8 states, 3 of 5 Great Lakes, sailed part of the Atlantic and rivers and canals. We are feeling very accomplished. Officially in the Chesapeake!
We made our way up the Sassafras River and headed toward Skip Jack Marina tucked up the Sassafras River. Once we got settled on the dock, we ate dinner at their restaurant near the marina and called it a night. There was a beautiful sunset over the marina and on the way to dinner we spotted an egret.
That’s Painkiller in the far left side of the photo. We will spend the next couple of night here at Skip Jack. We have some time to explore the Chesapeake Bay area before we make our way to Annapolis for the sailboat show.
We were up before the sunrise at our anchorage at the mouth of the Delaware River. Today we have to travel a little over 50 miles up the Delaware River where we will anchor for the night just behind Reedy Point Island. The challenge with the Delaware River is the current. Unfortunately given the timing of the tide with the available daylight hours that we have to travel, we will have to fight a ebb tide that is going down the Delaware River while we are trying to go up the Delaware River. To try to maximize as much of a favorable tide as we can get, we got up to leave at first light to make our journey.
We are bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.
The Delaware River is a major commercial shipping area for boats that are transiting to the Chesapeake and parts of Pennsylvania. They grow them big here.
See that sailboat in the photo? The boat is named Shanti. We had a bit of a challenge sailing near Shanti. He seemed to be alone aboard the boat and he started way over to the right hand side of us. He can gradually over to us on the left and just kept coming and coming, not seeming to care if he would run into us or not. Eventually he passes us and then immediately slowed down directly in front of us. What the heck?!? So, he calls us on the radio to ask what speed we are going and asks if we want to pass him???? He continues to go slow so we end up passing him on the right, which put us between him and a light house. As soon as we got on his side, he not starts to move to his right and is coming right into us and pushing us toward the light house to avoid a collision with him. Can you say boat rage??? We are now wondering what his problem is. We finally just hit the throttle to get past him quickly and be done with the games. Immediately he slows down considerably and falls way behind us. We see another sailboat coming up behind him and we watched as he repeated this pattern of behavior with the next boat behind us. Weird…..
We spent the rest of the day slogging up the Delaware River and fighting the sometimes 2 – 2.5 knot current. We motor sailed the entire day since we needed to motor to keep our speed up. There were a lot of sailboats out on the river today, all heading the same direction we are.
We got to our location behind Reedy Point Island around 5 pm. We had to navigate into a narrow channel marked by a red and green bouy with just enough room to get behind the rock walls on either side that takes you behind Reedy Point Island. There was one boat in the anchorage when we arrived, however as the evening progressed we had at least 4 other boats that pulled into the anchorage. One of the boats that pulled into the anchorage were some friends that we were stranded with on the Erie Canal. It was Jason and Sherry aboard their Island Packet.
To give you an idea of the current in the anchorage, here is a photo of our anchor bridle in the water with the current running past it. We are anchored! Sorry the picture is a little blurry.
Normally sailboats will lie facing the wind when at anchor. However in this case we were pointed into the current. Once the tide turned later in the evening the boat turned around 180 degrees to face the other way.
It was a beautiful anchorage.
And a spectacular sunset!
Tomorrow we transit the C&D canal.
We left Great Kills Yacht Club around 9:30 am. This passage will be our longest yet and we will run straight through the night for a total of about 28 hours or 147 nautical miles. We are thankful to have our friend Tim aboard so that we can all be better rested on our journey. We will take 3 hour shifts during the night and when we are off your shift then it’s time to try to get some sleep.
Why are we heading offshore and doing this over 28 hours straight? There are not many marinas or services along this stretch of the New Jersey shoreline. The places that do exist can have strong current and are not well protected from the Atlantic, so as long as we have a good weather window there really isn’t a need to stop.
Knowing that we have about 28 hours to get to our destination, we left mid-morning so that we don’t arrive too early to our destination of Cape May. We want to ensure we arrive in plenty of day light so we have no trouble getting into the anchorage.
So the map below outlines our path as we leave Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island. We head out into the outer harbor of New York. The 278 interstate where it crosses from Staten Island into Manhattan is the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge. We have to go around Sandy Hook which you see on the map below as Sandy Hook Bay. Then we head south along the coast.
Once we come around Sandy Hook, it’s basically a straight shot south along the Jersey shore and then into the mouth of the Delaware River. We will stop on the south side of the Delaware River opposite of Cape May. We will pass right by Atlantic City.
The anchorage that is opposite from Cape May is near Lewes. It’s a great protected anchorage with a break wall that I drew in in red. Once we rest up for the day and over night, we will then head up the Delaware River. More on that in the next post.
So, as I said we left around 9:30 am. The winds are predicted to be 15 – 20 knots at least initially but are predicted to diminish overnight as we head down the coast. As we made our way toward Sandy Hook, we had 11 – 12 knots of wind, we had the main sail and the stay sail up and we were doing a respectable 5 – 6 knots. It took a couple of hours from Great Kills to reach Sandy Hook. Here is one of the last shots as we left NYC behind us.
Here is a photo as we rounded Sandy Hook.
About 11:15 am just as we were rounding Sandy Hook. We spotted a whale! I think Mark spotted it first and shouted, “Whale!”. We were all in awe! We tried to grab the camera and randomly shot pictures of the water but didn’t seem to time it well enough to coincide with when the whale chose to surface. How cool was that! A whale!
A short time later, we saw about 2 – 3 dolphins off the bow of the boat as well!
Here are the pics of the crew. Looking pretty good and still excited and well rested at this point.
The wind did die down a bit in the afternoon to about 7 – 8 knots which required us to start the engine to keep up our speed. The wind was behind us and will the following seas we had a bit of a struggle trying to keep wind in the sails to make it worthwhile to keep them out.
Toward evening, we started talking about what shifts everyone was willing to do. Are you a night owl or a morning person? I am a night owl so I was happy to take the midnight to 3 am shift. Time took the 3 am to 6 am shift and Mark was up for 9 pm to midnight and then also 6 am to 9 am. I had prepared a pot roast ahead of time so it was easy to heat up for dinner while we were underway. It was getting a little chilly as the sun was setting. It’s going to be dark for a long time since sunset is around 6:30 pm or so. Here’s a picture of the sunset.
We were sailing about 6 – 7 miles off shore at that point. To prepare for the darkness, we made sure we had our headlamps out and ready, turned the chartplotter to the night mode and made sure we had snacks or anything else we needed at hand in the cockpit since you really can’t see anything.
All night long we had winds that were consistently 17 – 18 knots either off our beam or our starboard quarter, which was perfect. The seas were a little rolly and we would rock back and forth quite a bit as the sails pulled us through the water.
Each of our watches went fairly quickly and the time was filled with watching the stars and the moon. Watching the lights of Atlantic City which lit up the night sky for at least 5 hours as we slowly passed by. Filling out the log book. Checking our course and the winds. Looking for other boats on our chartplotter and on the horizon. There was very little traffic during the night.
Tim described the weight of the responsibility of being alone at the helm and how comforting and necessary having AIS was to be able to identify other ships/boats around us in the dark. He described the boat being in the groove and the sails and the motion of the boat as happy. She felt in her element. The moon and the lights of Atlantic City was a constant companion during the 3 hour watch.
Mark spent his watch chatting with some friends back home. His friends were like, “Wait, what? Your sailing right now? In the Atlantic? Where are you?” He found his shift to be very relaxing and the time flew by.
During our off shift time, we tried to get as much sleep as we could, however I don’t think any of us really slept too well and sleep came in short fits and spurts.
All 3 of us were awake and up on deck around 8 am as we started to make our way across the Delaware to get to our anchorage. The tide and current was heading our of the Delaware toward the Atlantic and we were trying to head right into the flow of the current and tide up the Delaware. Because of the tide and current the mouth of the Delaware River was like a washing machine and the motion of the boat was rocking and rolling all over the place. We tried to adjust our speed to various settings to see if we could get in a bit of a rhythm with the waves. Our speed also slowed considerably as we tried to head into the current to get to our destination. We were all tired at that point and just wanted to get there and fall into bed.
We arrived and dropped the anchor around 1 pm and we all fell into bed for a nice afternoon nap. We got up and had some dinner and took a few photos of the area and sunset and went back to bed for the night. Here are the photos from our anchorage.
What an accomplishment! We were all feeling very proud that we made a successful journey overnight and conquered the Atlantic!