Thursday, July 8, 2010

Elizabeth City to Cobb Island, MD (July 5 - 15 )

The 4th of July in Elizabeth City had been a great stop. Well, the band could've stopped playing a little earlier but I'm sure lots of folks were enjoying it. The plan was to ask for a 7:30am lift of the Elizabeth City bridge so we could go north via the Dismal Swamp. Shortly before 7:30, Joe called the bridge tender to let him know our intentions. His reply was that the bridge was broken and he was waiting for the repair crew. A short time later, we saw the yellow repair trucks on the bridge. A little later Joe called again for an update. The part they thought they needed to fix it was in Raleigh and someone was going to get it. It would be out of commission until the next day - at least. There is another route called the VA Cut. It would mean backtracking about three hours, but since we'd never gone that way - and know many who use it exclusively - we decided to give it a try. Our first stop was Coinjock Marina - nothing fancy, but it had started getting hot again and we wanted the power for a/c. We did some calculations and decided we needed to leave on the hour fairly early in the morning. This route involves five extra bridges that need to be opened for our passage compared to the Dismal Swamp route. Most are on restricted schedules - some open on the hour and half hour, one and the lock only on the hour and the RR bridges are open - unless a train comes. So we started out at 6am. We did fine with the bridges - but between some had go very slowly - even for us - because of the short distance between them and the opening times. One highlight along the way was Great Bridge. I really like the design of it and the way it opens. Immediately after the bridge was the only lock on this route - very inviting with the row of crepe myrtles in bloom. Evidently the lock is only there to deal with tide differences so the drop was only about a foot. As we passed the sign showing the junction of the two routes just south of Norfolk, we knew, if at all possible in the future, we'd be taking the Dismal Swamp route. When I told my sister, Jean, how much we had disliked the VA Cut, she said that the Elizabeth City bridge probably was not going to be open until the next week. Guess we made the right choice. As always, the trip through the whole Norfolk area was interesting. One of the first military ships we saw was this stealth tri-maran. Really different looking. As we cruised through Norfolk we had to make a decision. The original plan was to stop at a marina in Portsmouth. Since we'd started so early and it stays light so late, Joe was inclined to go farther. The thought was to stop at an anchorage near Deltaville, VA. The thought also included it cooling off some by 8pm when we'd get there. Once we'd gotten out into the bay it would be cooler - we thought. It wasn't cooler. There was no breeze. Evidently there was a light wind at our back which our speed negated. We could feel no air movement at all. The only cool thing in the bay was Lady M - 164' of yacht. I googled her and found that she was rumored to be owned by Ringo Starr at one time. She zipped on by us, and as the sun went down we just got hotter. A call to Dozier's Regatta Point Marina in Deltaville was answered by the owner who gave us a $.25/ft discount because nobody should be anchoring in this heat. Nice guy. After soaking up plenty of power for the a/c overnight, we headed out on the bay the next morning followed by our friends on Full Step who just happened to be at the marina. The heat had not abated - Joe kept saying we were "steaming" up the bay. There was a decent breeze on the flybridge, so we all - yes, even Joe! - spent most of the day up there. Next stop was Solomons area and a visit with our friends, Jim and Judi, who allow us to dock at their house and use their truck. Carolyn Ann sits nicely on the dock behind their Ranger Tug, Lil' Toot. Many of you have heard us rave about the food at CD Cafe in Solomons. Jim and Judi were also big fans and ate lunch there weekly - until the prices just got too high. We all went to dinner one night, but instead of CD we tried the Back Creek Bistro - formerly Vincenzio's. It's owned by Richard who was part of the former staff. We had a great dinner at a reasonable price. We wish him well and encourage others to try it. We had visitors every morning and evening - the mosquito patrol! Actually, they did a good job on the mosquitos - and on the boat, if you know what I mean. One night we had a nice thunderstorm with good hard rain to clean up some of their mess. We found another pest lurking in the area also. As hot as it was a quick dip in the river might have been refreshing - except for the jelly fish that were everywhere! One day Jim and Judi got on the boat with us and we took a cruise up to Golden Beach, where they had been our next door neighbors. The water was low so Joe didn't feel comfortable pulling up to any of the docks, but we shouted hello to a few old neighbors and John and Joy, our other next door neighbors, brought their boat down to visit when we returned to Jim and Judi's. What a fun day. We got to catch up on all the neighborhood gossip - and see the unusual house that's been built across the river. We always enjoy our visits with Jim and Judi and this time also managed to get prescriptions delivered, hair cuts for all three of us and stocked up on some groceries. After about a week, we were ready to head out and start up the Potomac River. As we left the creek, we were surprised to see this naval ship "Apache" anchored. The really interesting part is that we had seen the same one earlier on this trip, in Norfolk I think. I didn't get a picture of it that time but had googled it and found it is the last of the Powhatan class of ocean tugs. After reading about it, I couldn't really see why they don't have any more of them. Joe had planned our day carefully so we would have the current with us going down the bay and reach the Potomac as the tide was starting to flood up the river to take us to Cobb Island. Winds were predicted to be about 5mph. It was windier than that when we left, but the winds would calm down soon. Right. The trip down the bay wasn't bad, but before we made our turn up the Potomac, Joe told me to go make preparations for some rough going. See, it's good to have the tide flooding to give us a push up the river. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing down river - in sustained 25-30 knots with gusts as high as 49+knts as recorded by the Potomac weather sea bouy there. We could only make 5.2 knots against the weather instead of our normal 7.5. When the wind opposes the tide, the wave action increases. There was no danger, but it was by no means a comfortable cruising day with sharp 4 to 5 foot waves on the bow. Even Rocky was giving Joe dirty looks. Carolyn Ann now wears a solid crust of salt top to bottom until the next Marina for a bath. Given the rough running we quickly changed plans and we turned up the St. Mary's River and then into St. Inigoes Creek to a nice quiet anchorage. The next day we came out of the creek and into a completely different Potomac River than we had left the day before. It couldn't have been calmer. That made for a quick trip up to Cobb Island where we tied up at the Thayer's dock. They are friends of friends and currently are in Gainesville to check on the progress of their Great Harbour N-37 which is under construction. That makes them family! We really appreciated being able to stop and hope they'll be home when we come back down the river so we can hear all about the new boat. Tomorrow we'll continue up the Potomac stopping in Swan Creek - anticipating visits with lots of friends and family. There are a few more pictures on the picasa site:

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