Voyage 2006-2007: Chapter 5

Heading Back to the Bay

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Chapter 5


13 May 2007, On our way North without Ann, 35 14.560 N/ 076 35.430 W

    Wolfgang and Denise arrived here in Wilmington several days ago. We provisioned, rested, and prepared Jule III for trip back up to the Chesapeake. Our 1600 departure was quite remarkable. Bob was trying to warp out of the slip (he really didn't have to but ...) but he let the wind catch the beam and nearly pinned Jule III on several boats in the slip. The Mona Black gang came to the rescue and fended us off so nothing was damaged except Bob's pride and reputation. Two hours later we left Masonboro inlet, and we were off. With Wolfgang and Denise aboard, we had two hour ships with four hours off. It made the overnight passage seem easy. The weather was nealy calm with 3-4 seas from the previous gale (from subtropical storm Andrea).

    We arrived in Hobuken NC (home of RE Mayo Shrimp and Bait) at 1400 the next day. Ann and Bob make it a point to stop here. Sadly, Ann is not on board as she was recently discharged from the hospital (for the 4th time). The Moony crew enjoy it here very much also. It is 'fun' to watch the tugs pushing their load not more than 20 feet from where we are tied. Very interesting! Checked the oil and found that we had more than when we started. That doesn't sound good. We'll keep an eye on it!

    Bob did the unthinkable! He walked across a fixed bridge crossing over the ICW. You see, Bob is afraid of heights so 65 feet is a big deal to him. Fortunately, there is not much traffic on the bridge, so he walked in the middle whenever he could. However, he was quite worried about the return trip. Maybe we could get a ride from one of the waterman instead of walking across the bridge again.

    We walked back to the ICW but this time we were on the other side. Look who was coming down the waterway? It was Sterling of Southern Lady in his skiff! We 'thumbed' a ride back to RE Mayo and inspected his catch for the day. He told us how he rebuilt the skiff and had to remove a tree growing in the middle of it. Life is good (except we wish Ann was with us). We have no shore power so we rely on the solar panels and wind generator. Not bad. We are using less than we are generating as we are waiting out a strong NE wind. Tomorrow (Monday) we should be able to continue our trip at least until the next weather on Thursday. We will see. A shower at Elizabeth City might be nice.

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18 May 2007, Working our way up, 36 50.740 N/ 076 18.090 W

    We left RE Mayo (Hobuken) bright and early on Monday. Weather was OK but not favorable for sailing. Winds were out of the NE but only 5-10 kts. Crossing the Pamlico River was not a problem nor was our trip past Belhaven nor the trip up the Pongo canal. We anchored at our usual place near the junction of the canal and the Alligator River. As usual, Denise made great meals and Wolfgang the perfect helmsman and navigator. Bob did some stuff too.

    The anchorage was quiet and we all went to bed early. We wanted to get to Elizabeth City as early as we could. They were call for good winds (out of the south) and good sea conditions in the Arbamarle Sound. We motor sailed from our anchorage to the the Alligator River Bridge then sailed (with jib and jigger) up the Sound to the Pasquatank River. Conventional wisdom says that full keel boats do not catch crab pots when sailing. Not true! As we entered the Pasquatank, her helm got tight and we lost a knot of speed. Funny, no turbulence in the water, but something was definitely wrong. Of course the wind decided to pick up to 15-25 knots. Great. We were towing 'something' and we could not turn the engine on (for fear that we would foul the propeller). So up the Pasquatank we went until we found a safe place to anchor. Down come the mizzen, then the jib, then a quick turn into the wind, and the hook is secured while the wind is blowing towards 25 kts. Again, Wolfgang to the rescue as he jumps overboard and fetches the pot float and assorted line the has fouled the prop. Wolfgang is the hero of the day!

    We arrive at Pelican Marina (our favored stopover at EC) and meet up with Billy again. It is amazing how much easier it is to dock the boat with three onboard. We tied up the boat, signed into the marina, and recovered from the day's ordeal. The wind and weather were not cooperating so we signed up for another day at EC. Denise met up with Marley (the cat) and it was an instant love affair. Sadly, both Wolfgang and Marley's dad said No!. Later, we did the hike to the Food Lion and picked up some additional motor oil as we thought we might be having mechanical difficulties. Yep, the dipstick said that we had even more oil. We were guessing that diesel fuel was somehow mixing with the oil. Time to change the oil and hope that it would not be too much of a problem until we could get it fixed. We went to meet the Rose Buddies but they we not in their usual place (we later learned that Fred was hosting it as his house).

    The following day we headed for the Dismal swamp Canal (DSC) We motored up to the headwaters of the Pasquatank planning our arrival at the lock at 1100. Three other boats passed us and found them frantically maneuvering to avoid hitting each other or the lock. We chose to stay behind until we heard that the lock gates were open. Easy locking. Jule III and one of our lock mates decided to stay the night at the Visitor's Center. Nice place and nice people. We bought some stuff then headed for an early sleep. BTW, did I tell you that it rained most of the way from EC to the Visitor's Center. It was cold too. Got to love it!

    Left the Center at 0900 heading for the Deep Creek bridge opening at 1100. Wind was piping through the trees at 15-20 kts but we were feeling very little of it. It I mention that it was raining again today... and it was getting colder. The lock tender at Deep Creek is always a delight and today was no exception. One of the boats was a little annoying but he took it in stride. We left Deep Creek at 1200 and then headed for Hospital Point. We arrived here at 1500 with only 10 boats in the anchorage. We had dinner, happy hour then a early bed as we were sailing straight through to Deale MD tomorrow. Wolfgang and I made a bet. I bet that less than 50 % of the boats would have their anchor lights tuned on. Wolfgang said more than 50 %. Guess who one!

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21 May 2007, We re Back!, 34 02.536 N/ 077 53.490 W

    Bob won. Out of 11 boats, only 3 had their anchor lights illuminated. Pretty sad. As we left Hospital Point, we heard a report to the Coast Guard on the VHF that a boat in our anchorage had dragged and was floating up the shipping channel. We looked around but did not see the boat so we continued. Weather forecast was favorable for our 24 hour passage to Deale MD. Liar , liar!! The wind did not back to the west but rather stayed to NW with occasional veering to the N to E. A little sailing, some motor sailing, and lots of painful motoring. Bob learned a lot of coping and sailing techniques from Wolfgang and Denise. Still, it could have been more fun if the NOAA was a little more accurate. Near dusk, the wind finally backed to the West . That is a good thing. However, as dusk was approaching, and small craft advisories were posted, we decided to sail (and then motor sail) with 'jib and jigger'.

    Night sailing on the Chesapeake is always exciting! The tugs are not too bad as they move nearly the same speed as us and they are well lit. The big ships are anothe story. Running and steaming lights are the norm but they are not as obvious as the tug's light show. We installed an Automated Identification System (AIS) receiver so that we could see the big guys and the sea-going tows. It made this passage much safer and a lot more fun.

    We met the last sunrise as cold and sleepy. The wind had veered for a while that forced us to motor into the wind and then backed until we could motor sail. We arrived at Herring G 1 at 0730, and (of course) it started to rain. The folks at Herrington Harbor were most kind and permitted us to tie up pretty much anywhere we could. Nice folks. Great place. Tied up at 0900. Ann with her wound management equipment met us at the dock. She looked great! It was strange to see her hoses and her pump but 'not bad'.

    Jule III is on the hard. We have problems with the engine/oil level, the Simrad autopilot (new), and other minor stuff. Hopefully we can be ready for our trip North in August to meet Moony again. The crews of Jule III and Moony are heading back to Wilmington, then Charleston to bid a temporary fairwell as Moony heads for NE. More to come!

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