Category Archives: Travel

Progress

We have made significant progress. Because of the delays with weather we didn’t get to see all the places we wanted but its been an adventure. We left Rock Hall planning on two days of good weather. Once again, the weatherman lied to us. The marina we chose for the night was simple and out of the way. When we pulled in and said we wanted a slip for one night he said “you might want to check the weather.” I had glanced at it later in the day and it wasn’t looking as good as it had been, but I didn’t pursue it. I should have.

The weather had changed from the original forecast, our two day window shut after the first day. We spent 4 days at Smith’s Point Marina. It was at the mouth of the Potomac on the south side. We were 18 miles from the nearest grocery store. It was pleasant enough. The owner was very nice and lent us his car to get provisions. We met the folks on a neighboring boat and were invited for dinner and cocktails.

The delay caused us to skip going to Tangier Island, which we were very much looking forward to. We were just one day away from actually getting to the Intercoastal Waterway. From then we would be safe from rough water, kinda. Waves splashing up over the bow isn’t my idea of fun. I was ready for some calm enclosed water.

When the weather did clear we headed back out onto the Chesapeake. It was clear and calm and we made it to Portsmouth, Virginia. Going by the Naval Yard was impressive. We stayed at a marina a few miles before the entrance to the Dismal Swamp. It’s the slower route but more scenic. We went through locks and draw bridges and rafted up along other boats for the night at the North Carolina, Dismal Swamp Welcome Center. Locks were not as scary rey as I had thought they’d be

Continuing on we had to cross the Abelmarle Sound, which brought us to the Alligator River. We spent the night at a marina right off the mouth of the river. It had a great space for Tigger, nice showers and fried chicken! Several more boats pulled in after us. Several left in a group in the morning so there would just be the one bridge opening of the Alligator River Swing Bridge. At it’s mouth it was quite wide and a little challenging until we turned into another canal. It was remarkably quite and we didn’t see much wildlife. It was until we reached the Neuse River that things began to get crazy again. Waves and wind had started up. It was a rather nasty end of that trip at Oriental, North Carolina.

Oriental is a popular spot for people traveling the ICW. The town docks were free, so that was nice. It was also right on the road so we could walk to where we needed to go. We also knew bad weather was coming and we would be there for a couple of nights. When we woke up in the morning the road was under water. Once again we were stuck on the boat until the water receded. We met some of our fellow travelers. When the weather did clear the next day we were off. Again, several boats were leaving that day to continue the journey. This time the Neuse river was much more accommodating. Amazing how different a body of water can be from one day to the next.

Not wanting to get stuck again some place we didn’t want to be, we made our reservation early for the next marina. It was a good distance and the web site made it look very inviting. What a nightmare! How could a place named Swan Point Marina be so horrible? Holes in the dock, no power, no means to get to a restaurant, despite the mention of a concierge service on the web site. When the dock master did appear 3 hours later, Tim let him know our displeasure. The owner came to the marina (not down the dock) and said he knew nothing of the web site – yea, well bless your heart! No charge for the night but none was deserved.

The next day was very nice. Good weather, calm water and a lovely helpful marina in Southport. Since I had refused to get off the boat after initially walking Tigger when we first got to Swan Point, it was lovely to be in a safe place with good showers and a place for Tigger to run around. There were also several restaurants in walking distance. My nerves were once again starting to settle down. That is, all except for the time issue.

Cape May N.J. To Rock Hall MD.

Cape May was great, which was lucky because we had to stay there several days to wait for better conditions. We were well situated in the marina, comfortable dock to get on and off, especially with Tigger and close to the showers. It was time once again to do some laundry and that was right there too. These layovers, while a bit annoying do give us time to regroup, do some chores and tour some.

The weather on land was fine the first two days. At first we ventured out on foot, stopping at The Oyster House for lunch once laundry was done. We didn’t get too far when we realized getting to town on foot wasn’t the best option. The next day we rented bikes at the marina and rode into town and down to the beach. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. It was a delight seeing all the Victorian style houses along the way.

The next day it was going to rain so that was the day to reorganize things on the boat. I thought I had anticipated the best way to store things but there were some improvements that were needed. We had moved on from the cooler of food I’d cooked ahead of time so we ditched the cooler in Mystic. It was an inexpensive one and we have a few. That freed up some space. Now I could better organize things for easier access.

The weather was clearing on Sunday so that was our window to move on. We did 87 nautical miles that day. We went through the Cape May Canal, up Delaware Bay, through the C & D canal and into Chesapeake Bay. By then we needed fuel. We went up the Sassafras River to Georgetown, Maryland. We fueled up and picked up a mooring. The folks at Georgetown Yacht Basin were great.

In the morning Tim was going to take Tigger to shore in the dingy to take care of his business. When we went to lower the dingy we realized Tim had secured it with a bike lock on a long chain. We got the key to unlock it but just couldn’t get it to unlock. We called the marina and explained our dilemma. They told us a slip to pull into and brought us bolt cutters. Problem solved.

I’d seen one report of small craft warning but other reports said it would be fine. With that we headed back down the river to the bay. It was raining, but that shouldn’t be a problem. A little ways into The Chesapeake, the waves started piling up. We went up Worton Creek to find safe harbor. We had thought about going there instead of Georgetown so I knew we could wait out the weather there. This time we anchored. By the time the weather cleared it was too late to move on so we spent the night.

The morning would be clear with waves building later in the day. We thought we’d give it a go to at least make a little headway. It was getting challenging when we got to Rock Hall. Fog, rain and waves were once again upon us. We ducked into a marina there. We never made it into town because of the rain but we would have like to, the description sounded nice. We did eat at Waterman’s Crab House next door. It was a good night and with the forecast being good for the next two days we are off again.

Goodbye NJ

I sorta left things hanging with my ending last time – hunkering down, waiting for a nor’easter. Because we’d gotten to a marina, up a river in plenty of time before the storm was to hit, I was feeling pretty confident in our situation. Not only that, we were in my home state, and much as people make fun of the way folks talk here, I love it. After 40 years in New England, I’ve seen more than my fair share of storms, nor’easters in particular. We were’t talking snow, so how bad could it be?

This stop had pluses and minuses. Plus, my parents had retired to this town so I had some familiarity with it. We were in walking distance to “downtown” and a DELI! Once we arrived we went looking for a late lunch. Being able to have a deli sandwich is as close to heaven as a “Jersey girl” gets. In NJ a sloppy joe is a great big turkey ham and cheese sandwich with cole slaw and thousand island dressing. Try it, you’ll like it.

The minus, finger docks. OK a finger dock is a skinny little dock along side your boat on one side. Everything else is just lines (ropes) and pilings. Getting on and off the boat was a bit trying, depending on the tide. Getting Tigger on and off, a bit more trying. Stress is rapidly becoming a permanent situation, a deli sandwich helps however. Personally I felt like I was walking the balance beam when getting on the finger dock, but that’s my problem.

Now we’re getting to the hunkering down part. We were good, at least we thought we were. After a blustery night we woke to an equally blustery morning. We were waiting for the blustery part to subside. First weather report said 11:00 a.m.. Next report 12:00. Next report 3:00. Finally at 3:00 things started to subside. At high tide the dock was flooded and we couldn’t get off the boat. My cousin Betsy had texted, meet you at 1: for lunch? Nope can’t get off the boat! She came by around 3:00 when the tide had gone down. She brought us Pork Roll – God loves Jersey girls!

Our provisioning had to wait a day. Betsy was willing, I was not. Being flooded in a marina and having to climb up to a once flooded dock was a little more than I could take. I had called my brother earlier and told him not to come by for provisioning because we were trapped. We would wait a day until things settled down and go shopping then.

Jim was great, he took us around town for all our errands and bringing with him those items shipped to him. When the weather cleared in the morning we would be good to go. Fully provisioned and with partly sunny skies we headed back out. The NJ Intracoastal Waterway (has ICW) would be a relief from the ocean. That is until the shallow water started setting off our depth finder. Nothing in life is simple. It was calm though, until we reached the inlet to Barnegat Bay. As the fetch got larger, so did the waves. The depth did not increase much. Even inland, it was a struggle.

My New Jersey

Now though, I was in familiar waters, kinda. I’d driven over the causeway many times, never under. As kids, my dad rented an outboard to go fishing on this very body of water. Not right where the tides and depths were giving us trouble but close. Eventually we got some relief from islands in the bay, blocking the wind. Then, there it was, Morrisons Marina. They used to have a restaurant there too. It burned down in 2005. They had the best clam chowder. Anyhow, it was home and respite from the rough waters. After we docked, a walk down to the beach made everything alright again. It’s where I’d spent my childhood vacations, it was my New Jersey.

The next day we were to continue along the ICW of NJ. I was in touch with other folks making their way down the coast. They informed me the seas were calm. To make better time we decided to exit the NJ ICW and head out into the ocean. We could make much better time there if the seas were calm. The problem was getting out there. Exiting the ICW via the Egg Harbor Inlet was crazy. Tides, waves and shallow water made for a more than interesting exit.

Atlantic City

Once out again in the Atlantic, it was a great ride. Bumpy at times, but sunny and not too bad. We passed Atlantic City and then Wildwood. Then it was Cape May. As we entered the Cape May Inlet, a bottle nose dolphin greeted us. A warm welcome indeed.

Cruzin Down the NJ Coast

We finally feel like we are making some progress. Along the way we’ve been hit with some pretty rough water. Buzzards Bay, on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal on the way from Sandwich, Massachusetts was fine for a while but as we went further along the waves started getting larger. Our plan was to go to Mystic, Connecticut. We didn’t make it. Instead we headed up the Sakonnet River in Rhode Island to escape what was becoming a very uncomfortable ride. Entering the river, the waves were pushing us along. It’s not quite as fun in a boat as it is on a boogie board.

We spent three days in Tiverton, RI. It was a rather rustic marina but the owner was very nice. We were docked near the fuel dock so there was a steady flow of activity. Most interesting was when the owner fell into the water when handling the lines for an incoming boat. Tim happened to be nearby and managed to push the boat off the dock so Ken could get up the ladder. Even though it was a very chilly day, Ken continued with his work fueling the boat, soaking wet. Just another one of those hearty New Englanders.

When we finally got a day that didn’t have gale force wind warnings, we set off for Mystic. Again, it was just a window of decent weather. We hugged the shore to ward off the larger waves but it was a bumpy ride. More bad weather was predicted. Mystic was a good place to be stuck so we were determined to get there. Also some dear friends live near there and it would be great fun to see them. Other friends were passing through the area at the time and we got top visit with them as well. Mystic was a great stay.

When the weather cleared we started making our way. Once again we were walloped by waves. The NOAA forecast had called for 1-2 foot waves. No such luck. It was more like 4-5 foot waves and not a lot of fun. We didn’t make it to our destination. We had thought once we entered Long Island Sound things would calm down a bit. We were wrong, at least on this leg. Regardless, we had a pleasant stay in Branford, CT.

Hurray! Good weather with calm seas, finally! We crossed over Long Island Sound and stayed close to shore until we arrived in Manhasset Bay, Port Washington, NY. It was such a treat to have a nice boat ride and not clinging on to grab bars for hours on end. We were now well positioned to hit Hell Gate in the morning. The wind started kicking up in the morning so we decided to wait another day before moving on. We were no longer in New England, that was a milestone. Hell Gate, where Long Island Sound meets the East River, was to be our next challenge.

When we left the marina it was about 11:00. A good time as far as the tides were concerned. It was going to be a little breezy, but not bad enough to cause another delay. Our first landmark was the Throgs Neck bridge. There weren’t a lot of boats going through when we did which helped. Wakes from other boats along with the currents makes for a bumpy ride. Going passed Rikers Island was interesting. It looked to be it’s own little city. We passed the United Nations building and then headed towards the battery. We went under several bridges along the way. The best part of the trip was passing by the Statue of Liberty.

Going back out into the ocean and down the New Jersey coast could be difficult. We wanted to be going in the morning when we were fresh so we needed to find a place to stay. Atlantic Highlands has a town marina and it’s close to where we wanted to leave from. The other wonderful side benefit was seeing two old friends. One friend was from grammar school and one from college. Renewing old friendships is such a heartwarming event. The perfect ending to a great day.

Today, we made it down to Point Pleasant, NJ, and into the Manasquan River. We have all our lines securely tied. Sometime around midnight a nor’easter is going to hit us. Never a dull moment on this adventure.

Plymouth Rock ‘n Roll

Our goal for the day was to reach Sandwich, Massachusetts. The course we set was about seven miles off shore. That way we had a straight shot down the coast without a lot of course changes for the various capes and rock outcroppings. In hindsight, perhaps staying closer to shore might have been a better alternative. We were fine for the first hour but then things started to get cranked up. Rolling waves turned ugly and white caps were getting more and more plentiful. When things started flying around the cabin and we were holding on to the grab bars good and tight, we called it quits. It was time to head towards the shore.

Fortunately, we were near Plymouth Harbor. As we got closer to shore the waves subsided but we’d had enough at that point. I was also determined that when we hit rough water I would have things securely placed. Really though, I was hoping to not be in conditions like that again. I know that was wishful thinking but eventually we will be in calmer waters.

We were able to get a mooring through the Plymouth Harbor Master. The next step, after tidying up was to get to shore with Tigger. It was time to try out the new dingy. The smart thing would have been to try it out before we left but time got away from us. Times have changed since Tim last used an outboard motor. Apparently the kill switch was now needed to start the engine. Problem is, it was back in Falmouth! When we determined that was the reason it wouldn’t start, the oars came out. Tim called Judith, his cousin in Falmouth and I called my brother in New Jersey. She’d ship the kill switch to him and we catch up with him when we get there.

It turned into a very nice stay in Plymouth. We wandered around the next day reading all the historic plaques. Of course we had to see Plymouth Rock. We were also looking for information about William Brewster, a distant relative of Tim’s mom. Just what the relationship is, we aren’t sure but I was looking for information about Grandpa Brewster. In our travels we were able to get a couple of cups of coffee, which was much appreciated on such a chilly morning.

Back on the boat we were once again heading out. This time for a shorter distance and closer to shore. We pulled into the Sandwich Marina and settled in for the night. We checked with the folks there about what tide we should attack the Cape Cod Canal. They assured us that we’d have no problem leaving first thing in the morning. Gale force winds were being predicted for later in the afternoon.

We got off to an early start and it was quite calm and lovely. We knew it wasn’t going to stay that way so we pushed on as far as we could before it started getting bad. This time only two items got thrown around in the rough seas. It was another trip where we were hanging onto the grab bars. As a result we are sitting tight until we get a good weather report. The gale force winds should subside by Thursday or Friday. Patience is key here but I’d really would like to get beyond New England!

More Greetings from Portsmouth

Those pesky “Small Craft Warnings” keep messing with our plans. We tried to leave the next day from Portsmouth even though it was gray and a bit foggy. There was a small craft advisory but reading the conditions it didn’t seem that bad. It was. As planned, we headed out the next morning. Yikes, there were some good sized waves out there, 5′ – 6′ is our guess. It didn’t take too many times going up a hefty wave and crashing back down the other side to tell us, this was a bad idea. As things began to get flung around the cabin, we opted to turn around head back to our safe harbor in the Piscataqua River.

Before we tried to set out, we needed to take Tigger for a walk. We pulled up to the dock, went for a stroll and headed back to the boat. As Tim and I were arranging ourselves to lift Tigger and pass him to whomever got on board first, Tigger had other plans. He tried to jump onto Little Prince and splash, into the drink he went! I quickly pulled him with the leash, a little soggy but unharmed we toweled him off they best we could and were underway. No more getting on and off the boat without his PFD!

Returning to the river we had some time on our hands. We decided to explore a little. There are several islands in the river. Seaver, New Castle, Clarks, and Badgers to name a few. Some are connected with low bridges so we couldn’t go too far around those. The current in the river is quite strong so I didn’t feel comfortable when Tim started talking about anchoring. We decided to stay at a full service marina.

I had prepared a lot of meals for our trip and loaded them into a cooler with a block of ice and wrapped in a space blanket (thanks Kevin!). To prepare dinner all I had to do was microwave something. That is if we could figure how how to get power to it. There’s the batteries, the generator, the engine, and there’s the inverter. All our systems have been checked and re-checked so the problem was the nut behind the wheel (that would be me). After any number of combinations, I finally got it running. The generator had us stymied. We thought if we stayed at a full service marina someone there could help us understand how to work some of these things. There was also the issue of not understanding how to turn the heat on.

It was a good plan and it worked out beautifully. After we had spent enough time exploring the area we decided on Badgers Island Marina. They have two places, one on either side of the Memorial Bridge. Tim called and got the information we needed, including calling the bridge tender and asking for an opening. Yes, when you complain about a drawbridge delaying your travels you can blame the likes of us.

After we’d pulled into our slip and plugged into shore power, Tim asked George if someone could help us out with our boat. George gave us a phone number to call and we waited for help to come. Being on shore power was a first as well. We should be able to be even more comfortable, if we only knew how to make everything work.

It wasn’t long before Darren came by and was as helpful as could be. He spent some time with us and showed us how to work some things. We hadn’t yet had occasion to use them and we were struggling with, the heat, the stove and the outlets. He also clued us in on the proper way to run our power cords. I felt exonerated when I was confused by one of the configurations and Darren responded with, that’s a very good question, you’d have to ask the manufacturer why they set it up that way. When evening rolled around I was able to cook meatloaf in the oven. Not only that we had the heat turned on too. Cozy warm and well fed, what more could a person ask for? Things are really starting to click.

Another day and another “Small Craft Advisory” gave us a day to explore Badger Island and Kittery, Maine’s Warren’s Lobster House. With the marina being right by the Memorial Bridge, it was fun watching the traffic on the river. Weather permitting, tomorrow we’re off to Sandwich, Massachusetts.

Day 1 Greetings from Portsmouth Harbor

We finally left Falmouth, Maine and headed south. But with all good plans, snafus happen. We were supposed to leave last week, then yesterday, but small craft advisories kept us from home a few more days. We’d hoped to get the first launch out at 9:00 a.m. but it wasn’t until 10 that we got it all together. Chuck took us out to Little Prince and shared a few insights from his cruising adventures. We were really good to go now. With all the delays we felt even better about tying up lose ends and being ready to go. Then, as we were getting ready to cast off I tried to push a neighboring mooring ball away from the back of our boat. I couldn’t. Somehow it was tangled up with our boat.

We lowered the dingy to try and get a better angle on the problem. Some pulling here and tugging there isolated the problem. Tim took a knife and cut through the tangled line. A few good pulls and the other end came through. A quick knot and that mooring ball was back in working order.

We were now free to head out through Hussey Sound and into the Atlantic. There were three foot waves just as predicted and it was a bumpy ride. We moved a little closer to shore and the waves lessened. As we continued south the waves lessened even further. It turned into a very pleasant ride. Not only were the waves minimal, it was in the high 70’s. Unusually warm for Maine in October.

Our first stop, Portsmouth Harbor. We’re staying on the Maine side but it’s from renting a mooring from the Portsmouth N.H. Yacht Club. When we stopped at the dock so I could walk Tigger, I found it reassuring to see all the New Hampshire license plates on our walk. New Hampshire will always have such a special place in my heart.

It’s always so curious to see familiar places but from this different vantage place. One morning when I lived in Hampton Falls I got up before the sun to watch the sunrise over this very harbor. The lighthouse that marks the entrance of the harbor was the subject of a couple of paintings as well, Whaleback Lighthouse. It’s one of those rugged ones, not a pretty white one. Tonight, it’s sitting out our starboard window, diligently flashing ever 4 seconds. Maybe I’ll get some more sunrise pictures in the morning.