Friday, October 17, 2008

Solomons, MD to Wrightsville Beach, NC

The Potomac River cruise was just great. But it took a toll on all of us. Just look at the poor Rockman - exhausted.
After another stop at Zahniser's because the new transmission felt odd, we anchored in Mill Creek in Solomons. We'd always heard of it as a nice place to live and anchor, but we had no idea how much there was to it - lots of winding around with coves and offshoots around every bend. It is a beautiful spot and we relaxed there for several days, making a dinghy trip into Solomons one day for the obligatory trip to West Marine for Joe and a much needed haircut for me.
One evening we got a bonus - a full moon rise in combination with a great sunset.
Okay, Joe's been at me because he thinks I only tell the bright side of things. The transmission thing - Joe felt something odd which he thought was the shaft so we went to Zahniser's. The tech there said it was the transmission - the new transmission. His boss felt it also and both agreed they'd never felt that before. They called the Yanmar distributor who eventually said it was normal. With any luck they're right and we won't have any more trouble with it - but Joe will be watching and feeling it! As far as the old transmission goes, Mack Boring (the Yanmar distributer in this area) will repair it for us in the interest of customer realtions, not because they have to under warranty. Since the repair is a partial rebuild, we'll pay to have it rebuilt and they will back off what would have been the repair cost. So, the bottom line is that we bought a new transmission and will also have a spare. Not the news we had hoped for, but not the absolute worst it could have been either. After our Mill Creek respite, we moved to our friends Jim and Judi's dock for what we thought would be a few days. Joe had had some things shipped there and we wanted to visit with them again before we headed south. We ended up staying long enough for Joe to go to the Annapolis Power Boat Show (to have the chat with the Mack Boring -transmission - folks), then were delayed by weather and then delayed again by weather. It was a great visit, but it really started to get cold and Rocky was insistant on moving south - even after Joe bought him a turtle-neck sweater and a quilted vest.
So, we finally left Sunday, the 26th. Our DC stations held so we could watch the Redskins beat the Lions as we cruised to the Piankatank River. (Lisa - get those guest rooms ready for when the Skins make it to the super bowl!)
Monday started out fine as we headed south on the Chesapeake but the winds increased as the day progressed. Luckily it was on our stern for most of the trip and provided a nice sleigh ride effect. Unfortunately, we had to make a right hand turn as we approached Hampton Roads. This put the wave action on our beam (side) which made the ride a bit less pleasant for us - but not nearly as unpleasant as it looked to be for the sailboat near us.
Considering the size of vessels coming in and out of there, the channel is fairly narrow at times. It really seems narrow when you have to share it with an aircraft carrier!
The wind had really picked up so when we stopped at Portsmouth Boating Center for fuel ($2.499/gal!!!) we decided to spend the night there. With help from the marina guy and the owner of the boat in the next slip, Joe managed to dock Carolyn Ann pretty gracefully considering the wind gusts had to be getting near 30. Once docked, Bob and Lynn, the owners of Lagrace, the boat docked next to us, invited us to share a bottle of wine. Never ones to pass up on an invitation like that, we took them up on it. All of us decided that there was no way we were leaving in the wind the next day so we shared dinner the second night. They had lived in the Czech Republic for several years then had Lagrace built in the Netherlands. After cruising a few years in Europe they had the boat put on the deck of a ship and came along as passengers on the same ship. They've cruised the US for a few years now but are selling the boat to spend some time with family in Missouri. We've really met some interesting people on this trip. We were able to leave the next day, October 29th. Getting through Portsmouth/Norfolk is interesting because of the bridges that need to open and the huge ships and tugs coming through. We managed to pass a container ship that looked too wide to make it through the last bridge. We were trying to make an 11am lock through and didn't want to get trapped behind in case he got stuck.
We locked through and tied up at Elizabeth's Dock just inside. Robert, the lockmaster, invites everyone at the dock to come have breakfast in the morning. He's a great guy who loves his job. As we were locking through, I overheard him giving a history lecture about the Dismal Swamp to the Canadians in the boat ahead of us. We came north later than most of the boaters, but we are in the thick of things coming south. The locks and docks in the Dismal Swamp were packed full.
We were surprised to see this boat - named after our daughter-in-law. While waiting for a lock to open we were tied up near them. Joe shouted a greeting and Rocky started running around the boat looking for our Meredith! (Lucas might not miss you Meredith, but the Rock man does!)
Although we were probably a little early, we did see some beautiful foliage along the way.
After an overnight at the crowded but free Elizabeth City dock, we detoured off the ICW to go to Edenton where were able to visit with relatives and friends.

As we pulled up to the docks a few gulls were there to great us. The nice dockmaster came out to clean up all the presents they had left for us.

Lynn made it down for the weekend and her lap was in big demand, as usual. No offense to John and Meredith, but Lucas seems happy - even if it is at Rocky's expense!
While in Hertford, at Jean and Rich's house, we walked over to see the infamous swing bridge. On our way north, we had planned to go through the bridge to stay at a neighbor's dock but the bridge kept getting stuck. We decided not to take a chance on it this trip, but we did go meet the bridge operator.
There was a good weather window to make it across the Albemarle Sound, so we took it. Once across and into the Pungo River we anchored to wait out the coming gale and it's 40 knt wind gusts. We had plenty of company and the anchors held tight. The only problem was the poor cell/internet connection.
Once the gale passed, we continued south along with all the Canadian sailors. There can't be anyone left in Canada. We decided to stop at Dudley's Marina in Swansboro, NC. Dudley's isn't pretty but it's a great stop. The "office" is in the gas station/convenience/tackle/bait/marine suppy store. In residence there are a 58 year old parrot and a large dog that drags a rope behind him - attached to nothing. For the mere $.75/ft charge, you get electric, water, and use of a loner car. We met up with Ray and Susan who had anchored with us during the gale. They invited us for wine on Copeing - a 65' Outer Reef. This is a YACHT. Beautiful boat - Susan even has a walk-in closet. We decided to go to dinner at the Ice House Restaurant - a good choice is not only great for the service we got, but the food was great too. A guy from Dudley's dropped us off and during dinner we were told to let the server know when we were ready to go back. The owner of the restaurant drove us back to the marina!
Yesterday as we headed to an anchorage in Wrightsville Beach, we had to wait for a bridge to open and noticed this scene. It was high tide as we went by, so maybe at low tide they have an island under their umbrella and palm tree.
As I looked out over the anchorage this morning, one sailboat stood out. Evidently it was the designated rookery as I saw no birds on any other boat.
It's finally getting warmer and we've started seeing dolphins - we must be heading the right direction!
If you'd like to see more pictures, follow the link to our picasa albums: (it's not always updated at the same time as this one, but I catch up eventually!)

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