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 152022
 

Osprey is so secluded and quiet place on this east side of the USA. Fresh water clear with rich tanins make up a portion of our journey today. The quiet tranquil area of the area quickly becomes a space with large homes along the banks of the narrows and no wake zones. There are several along this path as we make our way to Southport, NC. The homes and boat traffic increase throughout the morning. Instead of solitude we are surrounded by large and small boaters enjoying this beautiful spring day. We are lucky to have the tides with us most of the way but with no wake zones we do step it down. At least the scenery is fun to watch and keeps the Captain on his toes while he boat and people watches. It makes his day more entertaining.

We were originally going to go to Deep Creek Marina but Scott noticed that once we “turned the corner” into Cape Fear there would be a 4 knt push against us. So I attempt for a marina prior to that “turn”. Southport Marina could accommodate us which turned out to be the best decision. There were so many Loopers here. Off Leash, Orion, Make it So, Ryker, and so many more. The local harbourhost invited us all over to his place for porchtails. That’s a BYOB and a snack if you wish and enjoy each others tails. As it turns out there were 23 of us Loopers. We were one short of tying the largest porchtail record.

The marina has everything you need with well kept docks. Water, power, showers, laundry, a nice boat lounge. They were wiped out last year with Hurricane Isaias so docks and amenities are only a year old. We didn’t wander around Southport as we came in late in the day and then set up for the Looper party.

Scott plans out our route for the next day. I managed to get all our marinas booked to Norfolk, VI where we will get our windlass manual part. It came into our friend’s place and he has resent it to Tidewater in Portsmouth, VI directly across from Norfolk.

We did chat with a few of the Loopers on the dock once we got back but as everyone knows Loopers midnight is 9:00. It is always nice to meet new friends along the way. We come and go and always seem to cross paths again at some point. We still meet up with friends from the loop we completed in 2017.

 Posted by at 6:21 PM
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 132022
 

We leave Charleston in breezy but stable conditions. The winds have been following us this entire journey. Since Scott did not find an issue with the windless we don’t want to be stuck out on anchor and not have it come up. He did note that the windless had no manual backup so he did order the part and had it shipped. We were told it could be 2 weeks before coming in so we sent it to a friend. If it comes in we will ask to have it reshipped to a nearby marina. At least once we have the manual lift we can anchor again. This marina living is not for us.

We must pass through some more skinny waters but saw nothing under 8 ft. Although nerve wracking so far the depths have been really good. We have heard that South Carolina dredges and tries to keep ahead of the shoaling that continuously occurs.

Although not a long day we will stop at a local oil company where there is a dock available and reserved for us. The town is really small but it is a good stop for a 50 mile day. Lots more grasslands and lowlands. The scenery really doesn’t change other than the colour of the water from inlet to inland waterways. Although all part of the marine highway of the ICW.

Upon arriving at LeLand we find well kept docks. The cleats are not really secure but it is very protected here so winds should not be a problem. We decide to take a walk which did not disappoint. The trees are thousands of years old, from what we are told. The spanish moss hangs on the massive branches like Christmas lights. Along with the century old homes this place is a really nice find. The scenery and beauty of untouched trees and bush is so beautiful. We even found a well redone old Ford truck. Someone will have to tell me the year and model.

We wander over to the fish shack to see what is on today’s catch. We find salmon and flounder for an amazing price. We grab a few pounds of each for the freezer. Another great reason to stop here.

Back at the boat it is flounder for dinner, a good night’s sleep and a good push on in the morning.

 Posted by at 6:07 PM
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.