The Bottom of the Bay

The Chesapeake Bay that is. What a difference today and yesterday were compared to the three days before that. Crossed the Pamlico Sound in 30 knots of wind right on the nose. The only way to get across halfway smoothly was to tack across the ICW. This brought all the action to the forward quarters and eliminated the pounding. The spray was still constant, however, and stung the exposed parts of your face. The next day was more of the same except across the Albemarle Sound. Currituck Sound was the last sound to cross and the only real problem was the lack of water. The tide here has no effect on water levels, however, the wind can blow the water in or out thus affecting the levels. With the NE wind that had been blowing for days, the water was blown out, leaving many shallow spots.

There were times when there was only a foot of water under the boat. The tugs pushing barges really had it hard through this section. They were basically pushing mud and doing at the most 2 knots. Most of those days I had been leapfrogging with Xanadu and Providence, two other sailboats headed north. This made things a little easier being able to talk and warn each other of problem areas ahead. The last anchorage before heading into Great Bridge was not viable so Xanadu and I just pulled off the channel and dropped the hook. I was so looking forward to the next day because Michele would be joining me for the rest of the trip!

So todays short run of 22 miles brings us to Old Point Comfort, right at the mouth of the Bay. It looks like we have two good weather days to travel up the Bay, meaning no north winds, before we may have to wait a day or two in Solomon Island. Heading north up the Bay in a strong north wind would be brutal, so we just don’t do it.

zanadu headed for the anchorage at Pungo Creek

Xanadu headed for the anchorage at Pungo Creek

The beginning of the Alligator River Canal. A 21 mile canal connecting the Pungo to the Alligator River

The beginning of the Alligator River Canal. A 21 mile canal connecting the Pungo to the Alligator River

Following Providence through the Alligator River bridge before heading to that night's anchorage.

Following Providence through the Alligator River bridge before heading to that night’s anchorage.

Waiting for the Great Bridge to open. Right after the bridge you enter the Great Bridge Lock. Michele has now joined me for the rest of the trip!

Waiting for the Great Bridge to open. Right after the bridge you enter the Great Bridge Lock. Michele has now joined me for the rest of the trip!

Entering the lock at Great Bridge.

Entering the lock at Great Bridge.

At the free dock at Great Bridge, we saw old friends Gary and Janie onboard Dream Catcher, a lagoon 410 also. The last time we saw them was in Lake Worth, Florida for Thanksgiving on their boat.

At the free dock at Great Bridge, we saw old friends Gary and Janie onboard Dream Catcher, a lagoon 410 also. The last time we saw them was in Lake Worth, Florida for Thanksgiving on their boat.

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Here they ate tearing down the old lift bridge and have constructed a high rise bridge in it's place. Notice how large the chucks of bridge are!

Here they ate tearing down the old lift bridge and have constructed a high rise bridge in it’s place. Notice how large the chucks of bridge are!

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This hospital ship Comfort, used to be docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor before it moved to Norfolk. The ship goes where needed in case of natural disaster. I believe the crew is all volunteer. I know the doctors are.

This hospital ship Comfort, used to be docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor before it moved to Norfolk. The ship goes where needed in case of natural disaster. I believe the crew is all volunteer. I know the doctors are.

 

Until then….

Two Words….Cold….Windy

This has been the coldest, windiest season so far since we started cruising. Even in the Keys it was cold and rainy a majority of the days we were there. Coming up from the Keys to Myrtle Beach was brutally cold. And now, on the way back to Annapolis, cold again. The air temp may be 55 degrees, but the wind blowing at 20 knots or so really brings the wind chill factor into play.

Anchored last night in Mile Hammock Bay, which is a part of Camp Lejeune military base. The anchorage there is well protected and popular. I did have a little drama this morning trying to raise the hook. I got the anchor up to just below the water line and let it hang there in the water. It’s normally covered in mud and if we let it drag in the water a little bit as we’re leaving, it cleans off the mud. Only problem this time the boat wouldn’t move. I tried backing up, going forward and spinning in place to try and figure out what the heck was holding me back. Nothing worked. Finally, I went forward again to check things out one last time and bingo, there it was. I had picked up a large mooring line that wrapped itself around the anchor. I didn’t see it when I raised the anchor because remember the anchor was still slightly under water. After dislodging the line and a breath of relief El Camino was free.

Todays run was again cold, windy and against the current the whole way to the anchorage here at Cedar Creek. All in all, a good day and the hook is down. Hopefully not stuck to another hidden line!

Cape Fear River Light House

Cape Fear River Light House

And yet another sunk boat that wasn't there on the way down.

And yet another sunk boat that wasn’t there on the way down.

This is something I've never noticed before. Crabbers storing their pots on shore.

This is something I’ve never noticed before. Crabbers storing their pots on shore.

These guys are hand dredging for clams.

These guys are hand dredging for clams.

The next couple of pictures show the Boogie Board Michele got me for my birthday. I’ve been looking for something besides a note pad to write notes down and keep them close at hand when traveling. With the Boogie Board you write your notes and when you’re finished with them you just press a button and boom, they’re erased. Cool huh?

In the first picture you can see my bridge list for the days run. The large number under the bridge is the ICW Mile Marker. The small number is the distance of that bridge from the anchorage that morning. The round circle is a clock face. The small line on the clock face tells me when the bridge opens. So, if the line is at the top of the clock, this means the bridge opens on the hour at the top of the hour. If the bridge opens on request then I write OR inside the clock. The circle with C13 in it means this bridge responds on VHF channel 13. The last entry is the days anchorage. All this saves a lot of time because you don’t have to constantly refer the a guide book.

The Boogie Board

The Boogie Board

Mounted with small piece of velcro

Mounted with small piece of Velcro

 

Until then…

 

Northbound to Annapolis

Well, Its time to untie the dock lines and head north for our summer in the Chesapeake. It was a great stay here in Myrtle Beach with many happy moments and unfortunately a very sad one. One of the highlights was getting to meet up with old friends, Doug and Pat. It’s always a pleasure spending time with them and our trip together to Georgetown, South Carolina was awesome! And it goes without saying that whenever we hit Myrtle Beach, our daughter Genne has projects lined up for us. This time we pitched in and redecorated Eliana’s room. Michele and Genne chose a pink theme and it turned out great. Eliana loved the reading nook and especially her “big girl” bed.

Unfortunately, sadness still lingers over having to put down Gidget, our boat dog extraordinaire. She started having mobility problems due to old age and a couple of weeks ago got sick. We thought she might recover, but it was not to be. She’ll be missed dearly.

This trip up will be a little different in the fact that I will be single handing back to Annapolis. Michele drove up to Maryland to stage the car there and spend time with Joseph, her son and my step-son, who is being deployed for a short time. After she got there, a change in schedules made it very difficult for her to make it back to Myrtle Beach in time for us to leave together. It’s a lonely boat without Michele or Gidget.

The first day, a 60 mile run, worked out as planned. I had sandwiches ready for lunch as well a couple of oranges within arms reach. Thank goodness for Pandora which helped drive away some of the boredom. It’s really weird traveling without my weatherman, navigator and best friend..

The Sockastee Swing Bridge. First of three..

The Sockastee Swing Bridge. First of three..

Here's a nice house with a nice color

Here’s a nice house with a nice color

And right next door is the "Barney" house...

And right next door is the “Barney” house…

First time I've ever seen goats in the marsh

First time I’ve ever seen goats in the marsh

Another shrimp dock

Another shrimp dock

 

 

Being back here at Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach is getting to be like being home. We spend a lot of time here for several reasons. The main reason is that it’s close to our daughter’s house. Another, is the people who both dock here and work here, they are some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Plus, being in Myrtle Beach, you have your choice of many, many different restaurants to explore. The crazy thing is though, we haven’t really found a great seafood place here. Most of the seafood here is ” calabash” style, meaning deep fried. And it seems as if every weekend there’s some sort of festival going on. Lots to keep you busy.

The last two runs it took us to get here from Charleston were pretty uneventful, if cold. Since we arrived too late in the afternoon to open the Wapoo Creek bridge, we dropped the hook in the Stono River. The bridge is closed between 4 and 6:30pm and we didn’t feel like waiting that long just to make a couple of more miles north. This put us three miles outside of Charleston Harbor. The next morning the bridge opened at 9am and we planned our departure accordingly. To get to the Wapoo Creek bridge from the Stono River/ ICW you have to go through Elliot’s Cut. The tidal current through this cut can be vicious and some smaller boats can only go through at  slack tides because of the current. The current, when we went through was as fast as I had ever seen it, but we were fortunate in that the current was with us.

Once past the bridge it’s a short run and you’re in Charleston Harbor. The only concern here is keeping an eye out for the tour boats to going to Fort Sumter and the container ships coming up and down the channel. Once through the harbor it’s back on the ICW. The next and last place we dropped the hook was South Santee River. It’s just off the ICW and a great spot for still water and solitude. Turns out we had a great sunset on our last night on the hook for a while.

The next day we struggled to maintain five knots speed against the current. That was with both engines running. The weather service had called for minor flooding because of the abnormal high tide and we were feeling the whole effect. The nice thing is that the scenery changed from dry marsh grass to cypress swamps. The cypress swamps in South Carolina are really unique in both their botanical aspects as well as their beauty. Watching the swamp and it’s always changing view helped the day pass a little quicker. The only concern besides the current that day was the bass boats. I finally figured out that there was a tournament going on and that was the reason for the amount of boats on the water. Those things are FAST! I was worry about the blind corners and getting tagged by one. But, wow, they must have been hitting 50-60 mph. Towards the end of the day we managed to hit slack tide and that brought us into Osprey doing about 7 knots. Good enough for me.

We’ll be here for a least a month, maybe more. I have some boat projects, some Genne projects,some blogs to write and Michele always has something working. Sounds like we’ll be busy…

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Here is Elliot's Cut. Chart view and actual. My normal speed with no current is 7.5 knots. Here you can see we have a 4 knot current running...

Here is Elliot’s Cut. Chart view and actual. My normal speed with no current is 7.5 knots. Here you can see we have a 4 knot current running…

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The architecture in Charleston so southern grand..

The architecture in Charleston so southern grand..

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The Ben Sawyer swing bridge outside Charleston and the bridge that crosses over from Mount Pleasant into Charleston

The Ben Sawyer swing bridge outside Charleston and the bridge that crosses over from Mount Pleasant into Charleston

Another eagle

Another eagle

The paper mill in Georgetown SC

The paper mill in Georgetown SC

Only in the south

Only in the south

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In the cypress swamp..

In the cypress swamp..

 

Until then….