Brenda LaPointe

May 312022

Disappointed that we did not get a well needed game of pickleball we are heading out first thing to the next quick stop on the C & G Canal which connects Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware Bay. It will be only an overnight where Scott will change out the gear oil in the pods. We will catch up on the blog, clean the boat and do some laundry.

We did pick up some fuel at Schaffer’s and listened to the folks at the restaurant having dinner. They played some great music on the stereo while we worked doing chores. Scott needed a hand so I went into the engine compartment where I was in charge of collecting the spent oil. After filling up the 3 containers Scott gave me he was perplexed that it filled all three. It should have barely filled half of the 2nd container. Then the lightbulb went off and he jumped, literally, down the stairs to the engine room and shut off the engine valve. We were not only draining the pods but the port engine oil too. Ok, now what? The oil for the engines can be found but it may not be up here in this tiny town. I start looking and find that Walmart is 20 minutes away. Scott heads over to the dockmaster and he says he will drive Scott to Napa Auto Parts, even calls to be sure they have some and reserves it too. He asks if Scott can wait til he brings a boat in. Big Yes, and thank you. Turns out we drained about 2 gallons so upon returning with the oil Scott filled up the engine again. I completely recommend Shaffer’s Marina for a great stop on the C & G Canal. Service over and above.

May 302022

We are excited to be taking a break at a great marina in Kent Island. Bay Bridge Marina is directly at the foot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It has a tight channel to get into but the depths are good even at low tide. The marina is a well protected marina with large cruising vessels throughout. There are a lot of boat larger than ours and all are well taken care of.

There is a pool and Scott found pickleball nearby that we can ride our bikes to. This is the reason we came here. We had reached out to the representative for pickleball but not heard back. So after we slipped in and caught our breath we headed out on our bikes to find the park. It was a nice ride for about a mile to the courts. The courts are under construction. There are no lines but a fresh coat of asphalt has been laid. There are 10 courts, at least, just waiting on lines. Oh dang. So we hit the ball a few times and jump back on our bikes to head back to the boat.

May 282022

The weather looks amazing for the next few days. We thought about going on the outside into the Atlantic and that route however we don’t trust that it will stay this way for the 3 days needed. We have not had 3 days of good winds since starting this journey. Mother Nature dictates our journey and she does rule the waters.

We head out onto the Chesapeake Bay with smooth waters and hardly any wind. We are going to Deltaville, a small boat building town from decades of builds. There is a museum and a small downtown. As we cruise the Bay the ships waiting for clearance, or something of that nature, are lined up in a row at the mouth to the Bay from the Atlantic. Literally dozens of tankers just anchored. It is a sight you don’t see often. As we are heading out so too are many loopers. We count over a dozen on our app and see many more moving along. The horizon is dotted with boats.

Our electronics are acting up regularly. Scott wants to buy new ones but they have said they will be months before any stock comes in. Even with him changing out the master and slave units it is becoming a problem. He usually shuts down the slave and double screens the master. It is definitely heat related. We are talking about a new dash that we will have to build with fans inside to move the air around behind the screens. At this point I have several blankets on the dash to keep the excess of the sun off the dash with 3 fans going to move the air. It’s helping but it isn’t solving the problem. One more solution for Scott to research.

Coming into Deltaville the channel is narrow and there is some skinny water of 6 feet at low tide. We are heading into Stingray Point Marina. A pool is available and bikes to travel into town. It is a very hot day of over 90 degrees. We get into our slip and grab a catnap. Then off on the bikes we go into town. The bikes are free from the marina and in decent shape too. It is a nice ride along the sidewalk. We found pickleball. We didn’t know about this one. Four courts and well maintained in the park. Lots of kids playing too but no one on the court. We head down o town a bit more and the museum is closed. There is an original baseball field from over 100 years ago complete with covered wooden stands, dug outs.

May 242022

The Marina at Coinjock Marina was a nice reprieve from the winds we were having on the open sounds. The winds are a nice breeze as we pass through the Albemerle to the other side and then onto the Virginia Cut. We travel uneventfully and nothing to report as we get closer to mile 0 of the ICW in Norfolk, VA. The depths are great and there is virtually no tide the canal until after the lock. The lock is simply a leveling lock and can be 2-3 feet. We have no idea what the difference is right now but will find out when we get there.

The Virginia Cut has bridges on her that account for some time loss. The good thing is that they do open every half hour so waiting for the bridge isn’t too bad if you time it right. We had to wait 10 minutes for the North Landing Bridge but after that it was smooth sailing with timing our arrival at the next bridge that was within the next half hour.
When we finally approached Great Bridge Bridge and then the lock they are timed together. We were first in line but let a couple other boats through ahead of us. We think they may be Captains by the way they are in such a hurry. The lock goes down a few feet as we are tied to a bollard, wait until the doors closed on the south side and then the north opened.

We made our way to Tidewater Marina for a couple night’s stay. The river into Norfolk and Portsmouth is lined with navy ships, police and dry docks. This is a main hub for all things navy.

We stayed at Tidewater for a couple days while Scott changed the engine oil and we got in some pickleball. Scott also did some resourcing of needed products for replacing a lot of our used components and fluids to be delivered to a marina further north.

There are a lot of Loopers here. We meet up again with Online and are invited to dinner onboard. Dnny is fabulous chef. When we pop over for dinner we find that another couple had been invited too. We met them in Swansboro. They are onboard Destination and traveling the loop as well. It is funny how we leave each other and meet up again later on in the journey. We first met Online on the west coast of Florida where we traveled together and shared stories.

Tidewater is a very accommodating marina. Really suberb folks running the marina. Laundry, showers, restroom, restaurant and good quality docks. Ask for the floating ones. The marina is right on the ICW where cruise ships, tankers and navy ships all share the same space. Along with our recreational vessels this waterway is very busy and is a great spot to watch all the boats go by. The other side of the ICW is Norfolk and the night lights are beautiful to see. Loopers do go to Waterside but Portsmouth is less expensive and a ferry will take you across for $2.00/person. The nightlife and downtown has much more to do in Norfolk but the scenery is more beautiful from Portsmouth. You make the choice that fits your style.

May 212022

Happy to leave this marina as Scott was up most of the night with the winds and checking lines and fenders. As we travel on Palmico Sound we are finding a lot of Loopers and cruising boats. The weather is calm which we expected however the winds are to pick up this afternoon. It’s a hot one in the high 90’s today.

Palmico Sound is a large sound which behaves more like a lake. Winds affect the seiche more than the tide here. The tea coloured water makes for an interesting moustache on most boats. Finding our way through the channels which are well marked the depths are very favourable.

Heading into Dowry’s Marina the small channel is a good depth. We tie to starboard with the stern in and happy to find that the pool is open. It’s a hot one with humidity. We drive with no air conditioning and it does get warm even with the breezes from the open windows. We plug in and start up the AC and Scott takes a half hour to decompress after 5 hours of driving. Then off to the pool to find that it is 84 degrees. We do several laps and then hide under an umbrella. The sun is so intense. We find that they do have a tennis court with pickleball lines but I would hardly say it is useable. They are building a restaurant with water views, improving the pickleball courts. This is a family run marina and this family works hard. It is not near Belhaven but if you like the more quiet, scenic marinas this is the one to stay at. Once the restaurant starts up it will be a destination. Looking forward to coming back in the fall.

May 202022

There isn’t much to report today other than just clocking the miles toward Oriental, NC. As we approach The Neuse River we see several runabout boats enjoying the day. Lots of Loopers are moving north too. The river itself is choppy but not too bad. Tides are 2 feet so the winds play more a roll on this area than the tides. As we cross the river towards Oriental the winds pick up. Several sailboats are now on the open water with their sails at full attention in the winds. We have seen that the favourite marina outside the city is at Whittaker Pointe Marina. We have a reservation there.

The marina at Whittaker Pointe has a beautiful clubhouse, restrooms, shower facility. The laundry is available. The docks are superior to most marinas as well. The drawback is that transients are put on the outside docks where the full winds of the Neuse River are upon you. I didn’t see that it was any different at the City docks either. They need a breakwall or to dredge the inside basin for the calmest waters and to be off that large river. We haven’t figured out why this is such a great spot. Our guess is that it is due to the fact that this area is just before or just after a cross on The Neuse. It’s about Convenience. We’ve had better anchorages.

The good thing about this marina is also that they have a courtesy car. So we jumped in and drove to the grocery store. Walmart, hardware, West Marine and restaurants are not far with the car. We drove through the town of Oriental and walked through the little shops, maybe 3 of them. We did see the dragon on the pond to which we aren’t sure what the story is there.

Would we come back to Whittaker or Oriental? The answer is a simple no. There is an anchorage available before the open water or just travel across the sound and find an anchorage on the other side. You can always continue to Belhaven if a long day isn’t a problem.

May 182022

Big surprise….weather is changing. Expected 30 knt winds in the next couple days. We are booked at a marina in Swansboro already so we add a day. As we begin our day we notice that the grasslands have all but disappeared. We are now seeing more homes, civilization, tall trees, even some evergreens that are hardy to the heat here. Dolphins still come around but not to play. They are very shy around boats. It is still such a sight to see when one surfaces. Where there is 1, there are usually more.

There are still a lot of small boats today. We pass and watch pass us many loopers and travelers to bring their boats north for the summer. This waterway is so well used at this time of the year and again in the fall to head to the warmth of the sun.

Heading along the ICW we pass by Camp LeJeuene a navy military base. Along the ICW they are doing live ammunition practices using old tanks, bombs and artillery. We can hear the bombs going off very regularly. As we pass along we are watched by the navy police and towers to be sure the ICW remains clear during the exercises.

We stop into Caspers Marina. Although we rock a bit more than most marinas we are okay with it. With the winds coming the wakes from boats will die down and we will only have to deal with wind chop. We again have every rope out with redundancy for ties. It is a fixed dock so that makes it more of a challenge with a 3 foot tide and winds. The Church St docks, also known as the City Dock, has a floating dock and would suggest that over Caspers on for that reason. Swansboro is a really nice stop. The town has so much old town flavour with family restaurants and friendly folks. We met a lady who has a community library box on her front lawn. Take a book and leave a book. I wondered over and traded a James Patterson for another.

May 172022

Running a short run today of about 17 miles. We want to check out Harborside Village Marina as a possible December spot for next year. The trip down was uneventful with grassland yet again. Excitement of the day was when our friends from the navy boats, way back in Charleston, were coming by in full gear towards the navy base at Camp LeJeune. Camp LeJeune is one of the largest naval operating bases on the east coast. They are running live ammo drills this week so I guess our boys in blue are involved with their new toys.

There are a few timed bridges along this stretch. Some will only lift on the hour and some on the half hour. Most are swing bridges with car traffic and each bridge is timed for a quick run between each bridge. If you are a slow moving vessel you may miss the timing of your second bridge. We had to step it up at least once between bridges because we would have missed the opening which would mean an hour wait for the next lift.

The marina seems very new. Beautiful new composite docks. Fuel is available. Power and water……pickleball about 1 mile away. Afer we settle we head on over to the pickleball where we play a couple rounds. Both of us have hurt our backs from the weekend warrior of sitting on the boat driving for so many days and then playing hard. We now both have to heal our small, but insistent, injuries. It is very hard for us both to not go and be our best when we play but we feel we have to move. We walk to pickleball and back and play with our new friends.

Scott catches up on business and I write this blog and clean up the exterior of the boat. In this salt you must do a rinse of your boat every few runs or the boat feels like a well salted marguerita.

May 162022

We reluctantly left Osprey Marina and headed north to a restaurant along the ICW. Running through the fresh water to the salt again as we pass a few inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. There are so many boats out in the last couple days. As we arrive just about lunchtime at Dockside we do see the many boats coming in for lunch. The dock is free to anyone just stopping in for a meal.

We were hoping for a free dock as long as you had a meal. This was not to be the case as it is $3.00 per foot. There is power and water but no discount for eating in. The winds begin to pick up and we begin to see the current step up throughout the afternoon. We found a grocery store and hardware store about 1/2 mile away and pick up a few items.

Heading back to the boat we get an alert of an upcoming storm. Checking in on the weather we are expected to get more winds, rain and lightning thunderstorms. We put out more lines to secure the mothership. Having a fabulous homecooked salmon dinner we watch the dinner crowd and then the evening crowd clearing out as the thunderstorms move closer. The lighning show was beautiful. We did get blasts of rain but there was significant winds north of us. We were able to watch the show in the distance.

May 142022

More lowlands, lots of grasslands and now fresh water. The Waccamaw River is so far inland that the runoff from the grasslands provides water for this area. The water is has so much tanins that the river runs a colour of tea. There are no tides either.

We found this gem of a marina at $1.00 per foot along today’s journey. Great family owned operation with goats and horses and well kept docks nestled in the marshlands. Tall trees and smells of forest with not much around to distract your senses. There is a well stocked convenience store where we picked up a couple Tshirts, marine toilet paper, engine oil, ice cream and paper towels. This little store has a little of a lot of needed items. Along with the slip we were offered a goody bag. In this bag was a beach coin container, a lanyard, homemade jam, fridge magnet, notepad and pen. This is our first goody bag on this trip.

We wondered around the grounds and visited the free range goats while they feasted on fresh grass. The horses came up to us looking for some goodies. There is diesel and gas available as well. This is a realy nice place to just kick back and not get so distracted from all that the city offers.

May 092022

Today the challenge is real. We have to leave at a rising tide but dead low tide is at 10 AM. We decide to head out and if we have to we will wait for the rising tide to get through Ashepoo Cut. All the reports say less than 3 feet and we draft 4 feet. That math doesn’t add up. As we head out from B&B’s fisheries we note that 2 other loopers are ahead of us. They are a bit smaller but must be heading to the cut too. Scott hails them. They have been through several times and saw nothing less than 6 feet. That is reassuring.

As we approach Ashepoo Cut they are just ahead of us. They will let us know if it is too shallow on the radio. As we approach we quickly go from 30 feet to 9, 8, 7, 6 feet. With LeeAnn and Sakado ahead they are quiet on the radio. That means all is good so far. We head through really slow and find that the entire cut is 6 feet deep at low tide. About half way through a huge 50 foot Searay passes us at a higher rate of speed and tosses us around. We loose our depth gauge. Great. He takes off at full speed. At this point he is going to hit something before us so we very slowly make our way through his water waiting for the depth gauge to come back once the turbulence dies down. We make it through at low tide with no issues.

We are heading to Charleston, SC with a marina reservation at the Harborage at Ashley. Charleston is on the Ashley River and the city dock had no room for us. We are feeling very fortunate to find this spot. The Harborage is in the downtown medical area with pickleball only 1 mile away. Yes, there is pickleball. We get settled in what may end up being a week here due to a massive nor’easter coming in just north of here. Everyone is stuck with a sustained 50 mph wind expected about 50 miles north of us. We are safe and snug here but know it will be difficult to move north as everyone has been stuck the same amount of time as us.

At the dock there are 4 new prototype navy intercept vessels with the fellas performing nightly and daily routines. They spend hours prepping the vessels and then take off after dinner to test. It is really interesting to watch how efficient these guys are.

We wander around town during the coldfront days and find a rooftop lunch spot. As we are up there the winds pick up a bit with the sun in and out of the clouds. It is really interesting how many of the rooftops are being utilized for various purposes. We found a pickleball court on top of the rehab centre, several restaurants, green space for the apartments, a gym. What a great idea to use the extra space. Some of the downtown buildings are a couple hundred years old. You can see that the streets were used by horses and carriage as they are narrow and the buildings have had several uses in their past lives.

The marina is very nice. Floating docks, close to restaurants, downtown and pickleball. A Marriott is here too and with Scott’s lifetime membership we have access to the amentities. After heading out on a bike ride Scott decides to take apart the windless (anchor winch) to figure out if he can fix the anchor problem. There is none visible but he does take the time to grease the moving parts and get serial numbers just in case. I chase around the fruit flies with the vacuum.

May 082022

We scoped out the entrance to Shelter Cover Marina in “Otter” at low tide last evening. Found the deep spots where the mother ship could go with at least 6 feet available. So a slow move out this morning at low tide but completely feeling relaxed with our sounding depths.

More grasslands to report but no more large green eyed flies. The fans on the electronics are working well with no man overboards to report.

Scott has found a small dock at a fisheries place in Mosquito Creek that we will be staying at tonight. No power but all we need is a dock to tie to. We both are disappointed at our no anchor situation and marinas will have to be booked before we even know a schedule due to the sheer amount of boaters heading north or staying in marinas due to covid boat buying. We have played dialing for marinas a couple times now but it is now a challenge as we have no alternative.

We can’t get to the dock at the fisheries until after 4:00 today so we take our time getting there. More grasslands, a few dolphins, lots of gulls and several other boaters are here on the ICW today. Not much new.

The dock at the fisheries is a good solid dock. There is a shrimp boat here for their business. Scott heads inside and comes out with a pound of fresh shrimp for me for Mother’s Day. All for me as he doesn’t eat shellfish. Benet’s Point is a sleepy area with not much going on. The shirmp place, an oyster place and a couple folks homes dot the shores but that is about it. It is a great stopover nonetheless.

May 072022

Waking the next morning we hoist up the anchor only to find that the windlass ( the anchor winch) is struggling. It is struggling to the point of not coming up. Scott is very efficient in using the boat to bring up the anchor and not using the windlass other than to bring up the chain yet it is unable to lift. After several attempts and Scott coming to the bow to help get the anchor engaged the anchor is settled in its cradle. Phewwww, that could have been some drama.

At this point he figures we cannot rely on the anchor coming up so we have to head to a marina where he can do some research on the windless. I find a nice marina in Hilton Head which will be considered a side trip as the marina will be about 45 minutes to an hour off the ICW.

The trip down the river shows the wealth of this little island. Huge multi million dollar homes and properties line the shore. There is an area on the island that is restricted to homeowners only. Must be some big names that have homes there. The river is deep with at least 15 feet below us until we reach the marina entrance. It is a narrow passage that shallows quickly. We are at high tide and see some concerning depths of about 6 feet. With a 7 foot tide that should make it interesting getting out of here.

Our slip is way back on I dock. Not a lot of space between vessels in here but with no wind Scott masters it like the pro he is. Now tucked into the slip he begins looking for information on the windless and where we can play pickleball.

The marina is a resort, abreast to the Disney Hilton Head Resort. There are shops, restaurants, entertainment all on ground level and condos and rentals to about 12 stories. The marina is beautifully landscaped. We head out for a walk and find that the grounds throughout are very natural in the setting. Flowers, trees, paths are very well landscaped. Meandering paths for bicycles are the norm with paved paths everywhere you want to go. There are bike paths in Palmetto Palms county throughout. A courtesy van will pick you up at any point in Palmetto Palms County here on Hilton Head Island. I wouldn’t say folks are friendly here though. We have definitely left the hospitality of the South.

Scott finds us pickleball for the morning and continues the windless research. He finds that the manual operation of the windless is an option that yacht manufacturers don’t usually buy. It is an add on. What that means is that if you have an issue bringing up your anchor you have no way of bringing it up. We have never had a boat without the manual operation so this was news. Scott ordered the parts but now we have no way of recovery if the windless fails. That means marinas for the duration of the trip.

We play pickleball at the Palmetto Palms Tennis Club, bike around the county. We have also been having an issue with electronics overheating in the 90 degree heat. We run to Walmart and buy 2 more fans. Scott takes apart the ceiling in the bath and now it has significant ventilation. Hopefully this helps with the 1 display not working or throwing out “man overboard” signals which crashes all the electronics. Boat maintenance in exotic place…..right?

It’s Scott’s birthday too. We celebrate with a special home cooked meal and carrot cake where we had our first instacart grocery delivery. Not sure I would use it again. Happy Birthday Captain!!

May 042022

We are up early to catch more dolphins feeding in our anchorage. Always a sight as these graceful creatures work together in family pods. There are less and less of them now as we move north.

Off early to catch the rising tide, we leave just after low tide. Depths are good with lots of clearance. Still making our way through the grasslands and open sounds to the ocean and passing more Looper boats we make our way through Ossabawa Sound to Hell’s Gate. Our goal is to get to Hell’s Gate at a high tide as most of these boats we pass are also doing.

Have I mentioned these big green eyed flies………………………

Hell’s Gate is a notorious channel that is narrow with shoals on either side. The shoals change often due to the large open sounds leading to the Atlantic Ocean. As we are crossing the sound we are with at least 5 other boats looking to pass through at high tide. We didn’t have any issues at all in this channel. Nothing less than 9 feet depth.

The grasslands and marshes are starting to all look the same. Open areas that when the tide is high you see only the tops of the grasses. At low tide, 7 feet lower, you see all the roots of the grasses and the mud along the shorelines. Scott finds us a large anchorage in Vernon River where houses line the one side of the shore on one side and grasslands on the other.

The mosquitos have come out and we make our way inside the boat earlier than usual. We start up the gen to charge batteries and watch TV before bed. The anchorage is quiet with 2 sailboats there. Rumour has it they are fishing boats for the locals. Another sailboat joins us for the night as we enjoy a peaceful night.

May 032022

These dang flies. They bite hard…….on the To Buy list will be a flyswatter. Scott has reverted to the 1970 rolled magazine camping swatter. It works well but leaves a mess. Between the fly and noseeum bites we both are scratching our way through our tan.

East River Anchorage is an amazing anchorage. We woke to pods of dolphins gathering breakfast while we sipped our morning tea on the back deck. Leaving a bit later than usual to catch the rising tide we continue the journey through the marshlands of Georgia. The depths are very good with nothing less than 10 feet. Tides are with us and against us at various spots along this stretch. There is a lot of boat movement too. We pass, and are passed, by several boats looking to stay on the rising tide. Most are headed north.

We are looking for games of pickleball. As it turns out pickleball games are easy to find. It is the marina that is difficult to find. The slips in all the marinas are full in and around Savannah. We had lined up to play a few games however we must cancel due to not having the boat secured. We continue to seek those games in the next towns and cities we pass. We will find something, somewhere. It’s just dialing for marina space as we all start the trek north. During these after covid times it seems that there are more boats on the water and the marinas cannot accommodate them all.

Duplin River is a great anchorage but can be rolly if the winds and tides are against each other. For the first hour that is what we have. Knowing the winds will die down we hold well with our anchor. The ferry provides a distraction as it takes folks to and from Sapelo Island to the mainland. OMG, these dang flies……….

We tune into our yacht club for an up to date member meeting and we are able to see our friends from the dock. We so enjoy catching up and seeing everyone. After the meeting we sit on the back deck and watch a fabulous lightning show that radar shows should pass just north of us. The show lasts for a couple hours while the lightning in the clouds pass the time away.

During the night our anchor alarm goes off showing that we have dragged about 300 feet. We are fine but a sailboat had anchored aft and we were concerned if we would drag more so I stayed up for a bit to be sure our anchor had set again. An anchor can do this because of the 180 degree shift in current. The anchor will have to pivot to accommodate the boat changing its direction due to being pushed by the current, or wind. We are all set again so off to bed it is waking to an early morning to catch the high tide.