Wednesday, October 31, 2018


We had hoped to sail east to Cape Look Out for a day or two then sail off shore to Wrightsville Beach. Unfortunately weather is not cooperating, so we give up on that idea. So back to our “overheating” problem. I swap out our raw water cooling pump with a spare, to see if that could be the source of our problems. In the afternoon we walk to downtown Beaufort, mainly to find ice cream. We walk down with Steve & Debbie Graves who we first met at Elizabeth City. Beaufort is not particularly busy with the recent hurricane, some restaurants are still closed and many Inns have workers staying at them instead of tourists. We have a very windy night on the dock and I assume we will need help to get of the dock in the morning.

Twilight at Beaufort, previous evening, old bridge left, new right.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


We wake up and head to the showers and find a nice present on one of our previously neatly coiled dock lines, done by Austin, a River Dunes employee. Not something you would see me do. Anyway a heron overnight left us a not so nice deposit.
Night deposit

Before we left I disconnected our raw water cooling pump hose. Then I connect our inflatable pump and blow lots of air out through the intake to push out any grass or debris that could be possibly choking off the water flow. After I start the engine the exhaust looks to be pushing out the normal amount of water.

The Autopilot seems to be working fine now, not that I fully trust it.
One of many new roofs complements of Florence

We have a nice day with moderate winds and motor-sail most of the day and get to Town Creek Marina in Beaufort mid-afternoon. The new 65 foot clearance Gallants Channel Bridge has just recently opened. The old draw bridge is still there in permanent open mode, until they remove it.
We walk to Piggy-Wiggy to pick up some food items.

Monday, October 29, 2018

River Dunes

Workday, but first we take the time for blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Then we carry laundry to their small laundry-mat for Linda. My job is to wash the boat, aside from being covered in salt from the last few days it is getting rather dirty. Our friends Mark and Karen from New Bern are coming to visit us this evening. They are currently living in their RV in their driveway. They had over two feet of water in their first floor of their home in Fairfield Harbor. The house has had all the water soaked materials removed and the house has been dried out. They have been so busy, they have not had the time for it all to sink in. They plan on heading south on their sailboat in a week and will catch up to us soon. They will probably raise their house in the spring when they return and rebuild the first floor.

Another Catalina 36, Pekabu, Pete & Kathy Bruzik

Linda and I decide to go to Yawl’s Cafe for lunch to reconnoiter it as a possibility for dinner with Mark and Karen. Turns out they have a very diverse pub type fair. 

The autopilot had stopped working reliably and I have been hand steering the last two days. I assume the crimp connections to the fluxgate compass are the problem, so I cut them off and solder the wires together and cover with shrink tubing.

We finish cleaning up the boat before our guests arrive. We spend some time talking with Kathy, a Catalina 36 owner on the end of our dock also heading south. 

At Yawl's we all have excellent dinners and come to the conclusion the Cafe is better than the restaurant and cheaper. The marina manager also tells us the same when we check out in the morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

River Dunes

With the wind shifting to the west over night the anchorage has gotten much calmer. We decide to head south to River Dunes at the mouth of the Neuse River. I leave the windward side of the enclosure on to protect us from the west wind. Engine temperature is still running high at normal cruising speed. When I drop the RPM’s down from 1900 to 1600 the temperature drops to near normal. I pop out the headsail and we are moving at a pretty good pace down the Pungo River. When we reach the Pamlico River we jog west into the wind and furl the headsail, and our speed slows considerably for an hour or so before heading back south in the protected confines of Goose Creek and the dug canal connecting to Bay River and the Pamlico Sound. With the vinyl blocking the wind we are quite comfortable, without wearing foul weather gear. 

He does slow down and give a slow pass

RE Mayo, good place to stop for seafood

Pounding down the Pamlico sound

By 3:30 we pull into River Dunes a very protected marina in a man made basin. There are a lot of boats that relocated here because their home bases were damaged in the recent hurricanes. River Dunes consequentially is not lowering their prices to attract more southbound cruisers as they have done in past fall seasons. Very few southbound transients are currently here. The restaurant that we really like is closed for the two days we plan to be here. There is a new building with a Cafe that has opened that we will have to try tomorrow. This marina has the fanciest bathroom of any marina we have been to and hotels for that matter. Huge showers which includes a steam shower. Don’t know why anyone needs a steam shower in North Carolina and I am always afraid to turn it on and par-boil myself. After dinner on the boat we call our grand daughter who just turned 13, a teenager now, wasn’t she just born ?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Belhaven, another crappy day

Rain has stopped, but wind is gusting up to 25 knots. I turn on our “Little Buddy” heater to warm the boat. After breakfast I clean out the engine cooling water intake, find a fair amount of stuff in the filter. Not sure if there was enough to account for the increase engine temperature. I worked on completing our full cockpit enclosure. I made the last three panels for the stern to completely enclose the cockpit, but this is the first time I zipped them in place to complete trimming the bottoms to the correct length. Now that the cockpit is fully enclosed at anchor. With the heater in the enclosed cockpit on, it is quite comfortable in the cockpit.

Friday, October 26, 2018


The forecast for the next two days is wind and rain. I had tried to make a Marina reservation at Belhaven since we have never stopped there before, but the one I called had nothing available for the next couple days. The marinas there are exposed to the forecast south winds. The municipal dock is very protected, but it is first come served, but by the time we get there at 9:30 the dock is full. We decide to ride out the wind and rain anchoring out. We spend the day reading and getting some work done. A rather boring day bouncing around in the wind and rain. Not worth taking any pictures.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Albermarle Sound, Alligator River

Sunrise Elizabeth City

Pulling away from the dock

Bye Elisabeth City

The winds have calmed down and are now blowing out of the north. We leave shortly after sun rise for the trip south across the Albermarle Sound. 

 Weeksville Dirigible Hanger

We have seen this tethered Dirigible high up in the air for the last couple days for testing I assume. They park it at night.

The Albermarle Sound is a shallow body of water flowing west to east and can be very rough if the wind is blowing hard in either of these directions. As we get halfway across the Sound we can see a line of boats coming south from the Virginia Cut to the east, towards our converging point on the south side of the Sound where we will continue on the same route south.

Dismal Swamp boats on the left and the Virginia Cut Boats of the right heading south towards the Alligator River Swing Bridge

Alligator River Swing Bridge

As we approach the Alligator Bridge the group of boats ahead of us is just a little to far in front for the swing bridge operator to hold the bridge for us. We wind up waiting 40 minutes for the next opening, allowing the boats behind us to catch up. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. I prefer Bridges that open at designated times, so I can adjust our speed to arrive just in time and not wait around for an opening. Bridges that open on “Demand”, more often than not, don’t, they open after you wait.

Passing barge

Normally we like to anchor just east of the Alligator-Pungo Canal, the most remote spot on the ICW. No cell phone reception for hours in each direction. Also one of the darkest places on the east coast. Unfortunately the weather is not looking good with a nor'easter forming off the coast, so we decide to push through the canal. Almost through the canal I finally notice our engine temperature is running around 180 degrees. It always runs at 162. I assume we have sucked up some crap in the Dismal Swamp. I had intended to clean out the water intake cooling filter, but forgot.

We anchor just north of the west entrance to the canal as it is getting dark with about 10 other boats that also ran the canal late.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elizabeth City, NC, Wine and Cheese Party

This morning after breakfast I head of the Museum of the Albermarle.

Museum of the Albermarle

Third time here so Linda is not interested, I breeze through it fairly fast and Linda meets there just as I get finished. We walk about a 1-1/2 miles to the Food Lion to pick up a couple items, I pickup a couple fuel filters and we stop at Quality Seafood a local restaurant that has good seafood at good prices, for lunch. Mostly locals, we are probably the only non-residents there.

Late in the afternoon our dock mates inform us they will be having a Wine and Cheese Party for the cruisers here. More boats came in today 9 or 10 boats total. Get to visit with some interesting people. 

Wine and Cheese Party

Chilly Wine and Cheese Party

A couple of cheesy whiners
3 Years ago same day in October, much warmer and minus a haircut

Rose Buddies is a local tourist group that has receptions for visiting boaters. This tradition of welcoming boaters with impromptu wine and cheese parties and roses was started by Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer in 1983.

In 1982, two Elizabeth City boating enthusiasts, Joe Kramer and Fred Fearing, thought it would be a good idea to welcome the city’s growing number of boaters with a sampling of its famous hospitality. Kramer snipped a few roses from his garden for the ladies, and Fearing brought wine and cheese for everyone to enjoy. From this simple beginning, the “Rose Buddies” was formed. Now the tradition has passed to a new generation, and the informal welcoming party is still going strong when five or more boats dock at Mariners’ Wharf.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Elizabeth City, NC

Leaving Visitors Center

We leave at 7:30 am for the 8:30 am opening of the Deep Creek Draw bridge and lock. The boat we rafted up to leaves right behind us. 

Draw Bridge First

Lock Up

Lock Down

All most halfway there

Uneventful passage back down to sea level on the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City. This portion is much more interesting than the “Dismal Swamp”. The Dismal Swamp is no longer a swamp, was drained a long time ago to harvest the Cedar trees. Once on the Pasquotank River we are truly in a swamp. You can’t drain sea level and this winding river is quite interesting all the way to Elizabeth City.

Elizabeth City Free Docks

Short pier, note the flowering plant growing in the piling.

Just afternoon time we pull into the free docks at Elizabeth City. There use to be local’s to greet and help the cruisers tie up. Since the decline in visitors that does not seem to be happening any more. Although the Local Yolkel with his pet monkey is still there, but only for entertainment, the monkey is not much help. There are just 5 boats here and we are all waiting for the wind on Thursday to abate some to cross the Albermarle Sound.
Cruisers gathering, mostly Canadians. The couple (5&6 from the left) Eric and Val Phinnney, on"Tevah" are sailors from St. Johns, New Brunswick, CA. The other couples are on power boats.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dismal Swamp, North Carolina

Most of our dock mates leave fairly early. The ICW officially starts about 15 miles south of Hampton in Norfork, with a choice of two ways south for the first two days of travel before they rejoin on the Alligator River; The Dismal Swamp or the Virginia Cut. We have been taking the Dismal Swamp route southbound and the Virginia Cut northbound, in the Spring. Most prefer the Virginia Cut, because of the shallow Dismal Swamp, 6 feet minimum and occasional bumping of submerged logs. Not a big deal with a sail boat keel, not something you would want to do with exposed props. In the Dismal Swamp you do have to pay attention to overhanging tree branches and floating debris.

Since we plan on arriving at the north lock, to lock up to the Dismal Swamp at the scheduled 1:30 PM Lock-up, we have plenty of time to travel the 23 miles to get there. As we are passing by Battleship Row in Norfolk our old friend Warship “80” is backing out of her slip, pushed by a tugboat. 

First Ships in the Norfolk line up

Our old Buddy Boat, Warship "80"
We try to keep our distance to avoid any calls on the VHF. Once we pass her we have to dodge a couple northbound barges. Since we have time to spare we turn into Tidewater Marina for a pumpout. We tie up to the first dock we see with fuel pumps, but quickly discover we are at the wrong dock. The dock with the pump out is down a long narrow fairway so we head back out onto the River and pull in to Ocean Marine a little further south. We tie up and have to go looking for a dock person since no one is monitoring the VHF radio. After farting around with “Mutt and Jeff” they determine the pump is not working, something that was quite obvious from the beginning. I have learned not to get fuel first from many past experiences of fueling up and then finding the pumpout does not work. It turns out that Tidewater Marina back to the north, that we just left is their sister marina and they tell us we have to go back there (Expletives Deleted).

Gilmerton Highway lift Bridge

So back north we go, doesn’t look like we will make the 1:30 pm lockup now. We pull up to the pumpout dock and don’t bother with topping off the fuel. We have plenty and I don’t want to waste the time. They do not charge us for the pumpout. We pickup our cruising speed trying to catch the sailboat in front of us heading to the Gilmerton Lift Highway bridge a few miles south. 

The bridge opens on demand, but they will make you wait nearly and hour if it just opened. Fortunately the rail road bridge just to the south which is normally open have been down for a train passing, So the boat ahead of us had to wait the the railroad bridge to clear, before the Gilmerton would open. Perfect for us, we do not have to slow down at all and follow the other two sailboats through the bridge. Boat one heads south to the Virginia Cut and boat two, turns west ahead of us to the Dismal Swamp, Deep Creek Lock. We are the only boats going to the lock so it waits for us.

These locks are not a sophisticated as the 100+ year old Champlain Canal locks and the water pours in rather violently. The boat in front of us looks like they are shooting the rapids. I find out later the usual lock operator is on vacation, which might explain the wild ride we have not had here before. 

Riding the Rapids

The Draw Bridge immediately after the Lock

One turn in 26 miles on the Dismal Swamp
Once through the lock we cruise slowly because the lock operator gets in his truck and drives ahead to open the draw bridge ahead to let us pass into the Dismal Swamp. We go straight for the next 12 miles, which means the drawbridge behind us disappears over the horizon as we distance ourselves from it. At mile 12 we make a slight left turn the only one on the Dismal Swamp, then its another 10 miles to the Deep Creek lock and back down to the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City. 
The tea colored water of the Dismal Swamp caused by the tannin from the tree roots.

The brown tannin in the water of the Dismal Swamp and other sections like the Alligator-Pungo Rivers often create a bow stain on ICW boats, called the "ICW Moustache"

We stop at the Visitors Center Dock in another 5 miles and tie up for overnight and do the Deep Lock at 8:30am in the morning. 

Dismal Swamp Visitors Center

At one point I dodge a floating log and forget to look up and run the mast into some overhanging branches. I expect to see our new wind gauge bouncing off our deck with the other twigs and branches raining down. Fortunately our lightning rod protects our instruments and wind vanes, but our boat is now rather messy with the organic fallout. A little while later after my Keenes are starting to stick the the cockpit floor I look down and see the floor turning purple (Expletives Deleted). Turns out I snagged a grape vine sending a bunch of ripe grapes raining down on our deck. Fortunately they do not stain, but Linda gets stuck with the clean up on aisle one.

We have a quiet night at the Visitors Center, with only 4 boats, rather cool by morning, 42 degrees. Sure miss plugging in for heat. Last time through we were rafted 3 boats out and I have heard boats have been rafted across the canal. The Dismal swamp was closed for over a year after Hurricane Matthew. The prior traffic has not return since reopening.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hampton Pier, Fort Monroe

Today is another museum day. Linda is just so excited, NOT. We have passed Fort Monroe on the southern end of Hampton many times, but never have visited there. Fort Monroe has a long history from the early 1800’s and was very important during the Civil War as a Union Strong hold in the South. Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort in the USA and only recently became a National Monument and was decommissioned in 2011. 


Fort Monroe

We tour the museum that is in a section of the wall of the old fort, actually in old gun emplacements that had been converted into offices and officer quarters. 

Between each arch was a gun emplacement

I am surprised that we drive into the fort over one of the many one car wide bridges over the surrounding moat. There are traffic lights for the one way at a time bridges. This place is huge inside, with lots of housing that is being put to private use as homes. The grounds outside the fort is another larger town, that was part of the military base, long after the fort was needed as a defensive position, but only as a training base. There are lots of World War I and II gun emplacements outside the fort just behind the beaches.


Foot bridge over the moat

The moat

WWII gun emplacement

On the beach

We stop for a late lunch at the “Deadrise” on the water on the fort grounds. The wind is blowing so hard we have a hard time opening the entrance door on the second floor deck. We split a fabulous and huge shrimp and scallop burrito. Head back to Hampton Pier and return our rental car.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hampton Pier, Newport News Marine-time Museum

Today we head to the Newport News Mariners' Museum to spend a rainy day there. Before we leave I reserve another night on the Hampton dock, because of high winds forecast for Sunday. The museum has the remains of the ironclad USS Monitor. The Monitor and Merrimack is the focus this museum. There is also extensive exploration of global maritime history.

Interior reproduction of the Merrimack

It it is still raining when we leave in the afternoon. We stop by a Costco and Food Lion to replenish our food stores.

We also stop by a Best Buy and a few other stores to look for 22” LED TV’s. The tuner in the one on the boat has died. Most of the TV we watch is by streaming over the internet either via WIFI or using our cell account on our iPads as Hot Spots. So our TV works fine for that or for video on thumb drives, so not having the tuner is not a big deal. It turns out that no one sells TV’s smaller the 24 inches any more, that also runs on DC voltage like a laptop with a AC to DC power supply “brick”. We have one at home, but not doing us much good here.

Manana with company

Hampton Reach

Friday, October 19, 2018

Hampton Pier

10-19 Hampton Pier

I had called yesterday to make a dock reservation a Hampton Public Pier. They could only guarantee one night. We wake up to a very foggy morning. Temperatures are in the low 40’s, but makes for some interesting pictures. 

Manana in the Mist

Sarah's Creek in the morning

I get to meet friends of Donna and Ken who have they same Catalina 350 that they have. Last summer when Ken and Donna was in Vermont I gave them our old helmsmen seat which we don’t use, to find someone who could use it. Well, this is the couple that now have our old seat and are quite happy with it and wanted to thank us. I thanked them for helping to empty out our attic, where it has been for the last 8 years. Ken had to do some modifications for them to make it fit.

The fog starts to lift and we push away from the dock and head out from Sarah’s Creek on to the York River. 

Leaving our dock

Heading down Sarah's Creek

Much calmer than when we came up the River a couple days ago. Luckily we are riding the current down the York River out to the Chesapeake. Looking at the AIS broadcasting ships on our iPad app, I notice two ships behind us “Government vessel” and a tug boat. I turn around and see War Ship “80” a mile or two behind us just going through the Coleman Memorial Bridge spanning the York River to Yorktown. This bridge with a closed center height of 70 feet is the only double span swing bridge in the USA. We quickly move to the south side of the channel they will be passing through. 
Coleman Memorial Bridge, opening for Warship "80"

Coleman Memorial Bridge, double spans swinging back to close

Coleman Memorial Bridge closed

Warship "80" gaining on us

As number “80” passes us to the north Linda asks why our VHF radio is on channel 83. I then notice that I had forgot to turn the volume backup from the other day. I change to channel 16 and immediately get called by name “Manana” from the escort tug boat. I then realized they had tried calling me on DSC, on the VHF radio which is like “direct dial” or “ring”, calling “Manana” directly. With the volume down I did not notice. They also politely inform me I should be on channel 13 in this harbor.

Warship "80" "giving" us a port side pass

We have a calm morning of motoring down to Hampton. As we start up the channel to the Hampton Public Pier, we pass “Purdy Suite” a Catalina 42 from Lake Champlain Yacht Club, heading south. This is the first that we have seen them up close. I saw them the last few days on AIS out on the Chesapeake. A minute later we get a call “Manana”, on the VHF radio, from the Hampton Public Pier, obviously they track AIS targets of boats with reservations and call them as they head up the channel.

Manana from top of parking garage
We pull into slip #4, not very gracefully, but with lots of help no damage is done. On the dock we get chatting with David, who I did not initially realize is Janice Roehr’s husband, “Obsession”, who I have been “corresponding” with on an ICW Facebook page. They had met up with “Purdy Suite”, both Catalina 42's and are currently traveling together. I still have not actually seen Janice.

People noticing we are Vermonter’s ask if we are here for the “Phish” concert. We had no idea they are at the Hampton Colosseum for three nights. We walk round the corner to Enterprise Rental Car, to see if we can get lucky and get a car without a reservation. As luck has it they have a return sitting out front that just became available. We plan on going to the Newport News Mariners Museum tomorrow.

Our new wind gauge