Friday, October 16, 2009

Brrrrrrr!

Temps are way below normal here for mid-October, but we're cozy inside our full enclosure. It has paid for itself many times over. We previously looked down our sailing purist noses too, as we were bundled inside our foul weather gear. No more. Comfort is VERY important!

After my 2-hour HOA board meeting by speaker phone yesterday, we anchored out last night in Eastham Creek, which is off Goose Creek, which is off the Pamlico River. Nothing there with us but one Bubba Gump shrimp boat and one lone trawler.

A lone eagle watched us this morning from his perch as we entered a narrow canal leading eventually into the Neuse River. Only other "highlight" was the very large barge and tugboat we crossed paths with at a bend in the canal. First commercial traffic we've seen in a long time too.


Arrived in the charming village of Oriental, NC, which has 3000 boats and 1000 humans around 1 p.m. Took a long walk around the town to get some exercise and shop. Kudos to Oriental. It's the first town along our route that recycles, and our recyclng container was overloaded.

Lots of shrimp boats at the docks. Throughout the afternoon, we've seen lots of our fellow ICW boaters that we recognize pulling in here too. Should be a lively night at the marina's Tiki Bar.

On our walk around Oriental, Fran, a 85 year old resident, finally "shanghaied" us. She had driven by us 3 times, offering us rides since she knew we were "boat people." Finally, she gently ordered us "Get in, I want to show you the pretty parts of town." We figured that was safe although I asked her if she was "stalking" us! Fran had moved here 27 years ago and her son runs a local boat yard. She drove us around for a short while, enjoying our company as much as we enjoyed hers. I'm not sure I'd offer a personal tour back in Williamsburg, but it sure was a "touch of small town America." Thanks, Fran!

There's a cool live web cam on the Oriental harbor at http://www.towndock.net/harborcam-slideshow/last-hour.

Went to dinner at M & M's Cafe tonight. Local shrimp (from Bubba Gump's boat) and crab quesadillas were yummy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Captain Squid

Take a deep breath, as I tell our refrigerator story. When MicMac was hauled out for three weeks to have her bottom painted, prior to our departure, Captain Pete turned off the refrigerator, forgetting that we had some squid fish bait in the freezer section. Do you know how long “perfum de squid” fragrance can last in a refrigerator? We’ve scrubbed it with baking soda, bleach, vinegar, enzymes, and even tried vanilla in a dish. I expect gulls to circle overhead every time I open the frig.

Captain Kidd was legendary for his reign of terror, but Captain Squid (AKA Captain Pete) will also go down in history as a menace to humanity.

A Change in the Weather

A cold front with 15-20 knots of wind greeted us this morning, but no problem. We requested a bridge opening and entered the sheltered Alligator River. There actually were 15 foot alligators here until the 1930s. But I used the binoculars to look for black bears and deer. The cruising guide said that you can occasionally spot a black bear swimming across the river, but no luck today—even at Bear Point. Then we motored past Rattlesnake Bay, Catfish Point, Stumpy Point, Frying Pan Landing, and other cute names. Dolphins welcomed us as we approached the Alligator-Pungo Rivers Canal—a long 20 mile narrow canal cut through NC boonies. Saw LOTS of waterfront property with no timeshares!

Then it started raining as we sailed down the Pungo River to Belhaven, a town of 2000 that’s popular with ICW boaters. It’s about as far south in NC as Cape Hatteras, but inland—if you want to know how far we’ve gone in 4 days.

We’re staying at Belhaven Waterway Marina, a lovely small (and clean) mom-and-pop marina run by a friendly couple from Richmond, VA. Best showers/restrooms in any marina we've ever stayed in! Like staying in a friend's home. Really!

Dinner on shore at Fish Hooks Cafe tonight (WOW!)—the ONLY restaurant open in this booming metropolis and it was terrific. Love these small towns! Everyone is so friendly.

Amazing Day Crossing Albemarle Sound

Tuesday, 10-13-09

After leaving Coinjock and the NC Cut in some dense morning fog, we heard on the VHF that two sailboats had run aground just up ahead. Fog is tense enough, and we soon had 2 inches under our keel. But Captain Pete steered the right way (away from the still-grounded boat), and we were off to Albemarle Sound.

All boaters have heard about the horrible wave action that can occur in Albemarle Sound, but today was wonderful—after the morning fog lifted. We sailed all the way in bright sunshine to Alligator River Marina, a nice clean stopping place but right off the highway for the “flotilla” we were travelling with (about 10 of us). It was a shorter day of 35 miles, so more time for reading.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Day on the ICW

Captain Pete and "first crew" Jake Kirchner brought MicMac down from Deltaville last Thursday and Friday to Two Rivers marina, where we fully provisioned her. That's LOTS of water, wine, beer, books, food, and clothing (in approximately that order).

We also enjoyed happy hour and the "last supper" with Kirchners, Polsons, Knuppels, and Raphaels before taking off to Norfolk/Portsmouth, where we anchored off Portsmouth's "Hospital Point." Captain Pete used to fish off this point as a little boy when he lived here (Granddad Bob was Chief of Medicine here at the time).
First light in Norfolk

We left Norfolk at "first light" this morning, in a "parade" with 3 other sailboats and 2 powerboats. Since it was a federal holiday (Columbus Day--how appropriate!), we got a few bridges to open "on demand" as opposed to waiting for "on the hour."

Got to enter (and exit) our first lock, which only raised the water level about 18 inches. NOT the Panama Canal!

Traveled about 50 miles today in 9 hours down the North Landing River and across Currituck Sound to the "hamlet" of Coinjock, NC. We're tied up to the thousand-foot dock here on the ICW. Mega power yachts on one end and we salty sailors on the other end. Going to eat ashore tonight. No galley duty for this first mate.