Up the Chesapeake Bay

The next part of the journey homeward became a challenge thanks to the weather and sea conditions. We needed to go up the Chesapeake Bay, down the Delaware Bay, and then up the New Jersey coast.  It will be a total of about 230 nautical miles, which will take 36 hours total of non-stop traveling time, and isn’t going to happen even under perfect weather conditions. The driving distance would be 210 miles, not much different than over water, but would only take 3.5 hours!

Up, and down, and up again .......... Or, in more nautical terms - north, then south, then north again.

Up, and down, and up again ………. Or, in more nautical terms – north, then south, then north again.

For these bodies of water, you need specific conditions, for wind and seas, currents, and weather. The weather pattern of Winter 2016 in the Bahamas has continued into Spring 2016 here on the east coast. The fronts are quick moving, with only short durations of good conditions for traveling by boat. Oh well. I am working very hard on accepting the reality that I cannot change or influence Mother Nature. Notice that I have not said that I have accepted it, just “working on it.” 😉

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit both left Portsmouth’s free dock on April 21st to head across Hampton Roads to Hampton, Virginia. A two-hour hop.

Al gives Cutting Class a helpful shove off the Portsmouth dock.

Al gives Cutting Class a helpful shove off the Portsmouth dock.

We only intended to spend one night in Hampton, but strong winds in the lower Chesapeake Bay and some rain kept us there for 3 days.  Arriving in Hampton meant that we were completely finished with the Intracoastal Waterway now. Hampton is designated as ICW Mile Marker 11.2 . Yes, that is an intentional negative number. I find that funny. Portsmouth is really where it begins, at zero.

There’s not much to say about our stay in Hampton this time. Sunset Creek Boating Center is convenient, reasonably priced, and friendly, but not scenic, and not quiet. The lifts were busy plopping boats in the water right next to our slip. Interesting, but not quiet. Down the creek a bit, there was a barge being loaded with crushed stone. Lots of stone, It can not be said that we have not experienced a variety of marinas and anchorages.  We did use our bikes for a grocery shopping and an ice cream run into Hampton. Alas, the little ice cream shop has left. The Crouch clan invited us to join them for lunch at the SurfRider and we had crab cakes that definitely made up for missing the ice cream (Yes, Al, honey, it does!)

Captain AL uses our quiet time in Hampton to catchup on checking and modifying routes for the days ahead.

Captain Al uses our quiet time in Hampton to catch up on checking and modifying routes for the days ahead.

Hampton to Mill Creek –  54 nm, 7.5 hours

We left Hampton on Sunday morning with hopes that the predicted change in winds would make the trip to Mill Creek, Reedville, VA, comfortable. We had strong north winds and 4 foot seas until 2:00 pm, then the sea calmed and the wind finally lessened and turned south. We anchored just inside for an easier start the next day. Much to our surprise, it was not such a peaceful night!! We were rocking and rolling.

Surfing along

Surfing along. At least the sun was shining.

Sunset at Mill Creek, Virginia

Sunset at Mill Creek, Virginia

Mill Creek to Annapolis, MD –  75 nm, 10.5 hours

Just before sunrise at Mill Creek. We needed an early start because this would be a long day!

Just before sunrise at Mill Creek. We needed an early start because this would be a long day!

First challenge is to miss those fish sticks as we exit Mill Creek and re-enter the Chesapeake Bay.

First challenge is to miss those fish sticks as we exit Mill Creek and re-enter the Chesapeake Bay.You can just barely see the sticks in this light.

It wouldn't be the Chesapeake Bay without the crab skiffs out and about taking care of their pots.

It wouldn’t be the Chesapeake Bay without the crab skiffs out and about taking care of their pots.

Love to eat crabs, but the crab pot buoys create an obstacle course as we travel on the bay. The autopilot does an incredible job of following a well-laid out course, but "Otto" cannot see the pots. That is our job. Crab pot ahead! Be sure to avoid it -- look back...... yup, it is in our wake.

Love to eat crabs, but the crab pot buoys create an obstacle course as we travel on the bay. The autopilot does an incredible job of following a well-laid out course, but “Otto” cannot see the pots. That is our job. Crab pot ahead! Be sure to avoid it — look back…… yup, it is in our wake. Did not catch it (sigh of relief follows that).

Some moments of sparkling water on the Chesapeake Bay.

A few moments of sparkling water on the Chesapeake Bay.

My favorite lighthouse in the Chesapeake - Thomas Shoal Light.

My favorite lighthouse in the Chesapeake – Thomas Shoal Light.

If we can only stop in one place on the Chesapeake Bay, it has to be in Annapolis to visit with our special cruising friends, Mary Marie and Frank. They bought a lovely home with a dock for their boat, Eleanor Q, and welcome all of their cruising friends to stop by when traveling through the bay.

KS Lake Ogleton

Mary Marie not only welcomes you at the dock, she photographs you! We have never stayed at any marina that does that. 😉

We did not intend to stay long, but the weather “convinced” us that another day here with Mary Marie and Frank would not impact our pace going home.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class are snuggled in with Eleanor Q at her dock.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class are snuggled in with Eleanor Q at her dock.

It really is possible to pack a heap of fun into a short time. This stopover was meant to be, on this date  — Frank was home on a Tuesday following a business trip. How lucky can we get??

The six of us decided a trip into Annapolis was on the schedule for the afternoon. The guys decided to go by boat in the little runabout.

The six of us decided a trip into Annapolis was on the schedule for the afternoon. The guys decided to go by boat in the little runabout. The girls went by car. We didn’t think the skiff would fare well carrying 6 in these winds.

Windy, but like a summer day, in the 80's. A stop for ice cream!!

Windy, but like a summer day, in the 80’s. A stop for ice cream!!

Hanging out with friends. The temperature dropped from 80s (bottom pic) to high 50s the next day (top pic). Wow, that was short summer!

Hanging out with friends. The temperature dropped from 80’s (bottom pic) to high 50’s the next day (top pic). Wow, that was a short summer! Or did we stay too long and fall has arrived??

After ice cream, we had beers at Eastport Yacht Club. Beer and ice cream - what could be better?

After ice cream, we had beers at Eastport Yacht Club. Beer and ice cream – what could be better? And what a great deck for watching the sailboats in the Annapolis harbor.

I was intrigued by the Eastport Yacht Club’s burgee. I studied the cocktail napkin, trying to figure out the meaning of the design. On the napkin, it looked like a bird’s tail, to me. I’m glad my curiosity prompted me to ask Frank and Mary Marie. The burgee’s design is a graphic representation of the Compromise Street Bridge, a drawbridge, that crosses over Spa Creek in Annapolis.

The EYC burgee’s design flies from the flagpole, it decorates the napkins, and it lines the bathroom sink. We got a kick out of that sink.

We returned to downtown Annapolis the next day for another walk around. Such a great place that I hope we can spend more time here again in the future.

Couldn't resist snapping a photo of this man in his historical garb and his cell phone - An anachronism in action.

We couldn’t resist snapping photos of this man in his historical garb with his cell phone – an anachronism in action! He was very cute about it.

I am the only one in our little trio with brown eyes.........

I am the only one in our little trio with brown eyes………

Our first experience at Chick and Ruth’s Delly last September (Chesapeakin‘) turned us into fans which meant that we were not going to miss an opportunity to eat there while in Annapolis.

We HAD to eat dinner again at Chick and Ruth's Delly. We love this place! Funniest staff (and some are very dedicated to Maryland as our waiter's tattoo demonstrates), retro cool ambience, and delicious crab benedict.

We HAD to eat dinner again at Chick & Ruth’s Delly. We love this place! Funniest staff (and some are very dedicated to Maryland crabs as our waiter’s tattoo demonstrates), retro cool ambience, and delicious Crab Benedict. 

Having fun at Chick & Ruth's Delly. I thin I have finally written the name often enough that I amy no longer confuse it with Chris Ruth Steakhouse. Maybe.

Having fun at Chick & Ruth’s Delly. I think I have finally written the name often enough that I may no longer confuse it with the ” Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse”.  Maybe.

A favorite photo from the day!

A favorite photo from the day!  3Ms, or would that be 4 Ms in all  – MaryMarie, Marcia, Michele? OR, if you count my middle name, Marie, then it would be 5Ms……. enough!

It was time for us to leave the next day  to finish our trip up the Chesapeake Bay.  Both boats delayed departure long enough in the morning to catch Frank’s daughter, Nicole, on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. Coley was a Next Food Network Star finalist in 2014. We cruisers, family, and friends all avidly watched and cheered her on. It seems serendipitous that we could watch and cheer for her again as we finish another season of cruising. Nicole has a terrific website, Coley Cooks  and a YouTube channel with fun and informative videos ( love the “no fail kale chips” and the salted caramel videos.) Once I am back home in my land kitchen I will be checking out and trying more of her recipes.

We all enjoyed watching Coley on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. It was extra special because we got to watch it live with Mary Marie.

We all enjoyed watching Coley on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. It was extra special because we got to watch it live with Mary Marie.

Kindred Spirit departs from our favorite "marina." Thank you so much Mary Marie and Frank! We were a little sad, but eager to get underway again.

Kindred Spirit departs from our favorite “marina.” Thank you so much Mary Marie and Frank! Where is that survey for guests???

Off we go on another cold and dreary morning. Sad to say goodbye to friends, but eager to be underway and heading homeward.

Dances with Barges – Northbound on the Virginia Cut

We left Oriental very early on Monday, April 18th, with Cutting Class, the day the winds were finally going to lay down. The next two days are one of my least favorite sections of the ICW, perhaps the very least favorite. We just wanted to get it done.

We awaken to another morning glow in the east. Over the Oriental breakwater.

We awaken to another morning glow in the east. Over the Oriental breakwater.

On our way with the sunrising ahead.

On our way with the sunrising ahead.

It's an easy morning on the Neuse so Al decided to use the time to clean the windshield, inside and out.

It’s an easy morning so Al decided to use the time to clean the windshield, inside and out.

It's fun to watch the variety of local fisherman and crabbers out on the water, doing their thing.

It’s fun to watch the variety of local fisherman and crabbers out on the water, doing their thing.

It’s winding day in and out of rivers and canals. From Oriental the ICW heads into the Neuse River for a short stretch, and then cuts “inland” westward past Hoboken.

The big fishing boats at RE Mayo. "Cape Potter" is getting his named re-painted.

The big fishing boats at RE Mayo in Hobucken. “Cape Potter” is getting his named re-painted.

Hmmmm........ a duck blind for hunting? Looks like it needs a dressing of fresh greenery.

Hmmmm…….. a duck blind for hunting? Looks like it needs a dressing of fresh greenery.

We cross the Pimlico River and turn into the Pungo River. The Pungo River heads north to Bellhaven (we stopped there on both of our previous trips through here) and then turns eastward. The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal is a long 21 miles stretch of straight water.

We cross the Pimlico River and turn into the Pungo River. The Pungo River heads north to Bellhaven (we stopped there on both of our previous trips through here) and then turns eastward. The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, 21 miles long, connects the Pungo  River with the Alligator River to the east.

The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal is a long 25 miles stretch of straight water. It has some limited charm, but gets boring fairly quickly. You can see where fallen dead trees are pulled off to the side and piled up. Driftwood, anyone??

The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal has some limited charm, but gets boring fairly quickly. You can see where fallen dead trees are pulled off to the side and piled up. Driftwood, anyone??

Three little turtles sitting on a log. Oops! Our wake washes them right off. SO sorry, but there wasn't much we could do? Perhaps they think of it as a water park ride?

Three little turtles sitting on a log.
Oops! Our wake washes them right off. SO sorry, but there wasn’t much we could do? Perhaps they think of it as a water park ride? Hope so!

How nice to come out of the canal into very calm waters.

How nice to come out of the canal into very calm waters.

The original plan was to reach Deep Point, an anchorage on the Alligator River, north of the Alligator River -Pungo River Canal, stop there for the night, and then continue across the Albemarle Sound and on to Coinjock. But both boats decided to keep on going past the Alligator River Bridge and anchor at Sandy Point.

We watched this smoke billowing up for quite a distance as we came through he Alligator River . Never did find out the cause.

Smoke was billowing up in distance as we came through the Alligator River. The smell of burning carried on the wind to us. NPR news reported (listening to a podcast) that this wildfire in the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge was the largest of 3 wildfires in North Carolina, consuming a total of 17,000 acres. 

A very long day, but very worth it. The sun sets on our 85-mile, 11.5 hour day.

A very long day, but very worth it. The sun sets on our 85-mile, 11.5 hour day.

Tuesday, April 19th and we are up and going again, time to cross the Albemarle. Albemarle Sound can be quite rough in certain conditions. It is wide and shallow (15-20 feet at most so the wind can kick up the waves. Today was a good day. It is on the other side of the  Albemarle Sound, that cruisers must make a choice – Dismal Swamp route or Virginia Cut?? In the fall we had “done the Dismal” taking that route from Portsmouth, Virginia into North Carolina. We decided that the Virginia Cut was the way to go on our northbound travels.

We reached Coinjock Marina on the North River in the Virginia Cut by noon. The docks at Coinjock is a singular dock– one long face dock, 1200 feet long! The marina’s crew knows just how to place the boats and are right there to assist as you come alongside. Coinjock is in the middle of nowhere, but that nowhere location is just right for stopping if you are on the ICW between the Alligator River and Virginia border. There aren’t many other choices.

This photo was taken in the dim morning light as we left the next day. Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit were the last boats at the very far end.

This photo was taken in the dim morning light as we left the next day. Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit were the last boats at the very far end.

coinjock bush

The meaning of the word “coinjock” from the marina’s website.

It felt like a summer day in the 80’s, a little warm blip of a day in the midst of the cold days we have experienced. While Al changed the oil and washed the entire boat with fresh water, I did laundry and polished stainless steel.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Coinjock

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Coinjock, North Carolina

Coinjock Marina has a famous restaurant, known for its prime rib dinners. How could we not try it?

Coinjock Marina has a famous restaurant, known for its prime rib dinners. How could we not try it? (Dim early morning light again)

prime rib

 

The four of us reserved our slabs of beef ahead of time, but showed some restraint – each couple shared a “Mate’s Cut”, the 14-16 ounce cut rather than the Captain’s 32 ounce piece. It was delicious.

 

prime rib dinner Coinjocks

The Coinjock folks have a sense of humor.

The Coinjock folks have a sense of humor.

We left the Coinjock dock before any of the dockhands arrived for the day.

We left the Coinjock dock before any of the dockhands arrived for the day.

It's a little chilly again.

It’s a little chilly again, but we prefer to be up on the flybridge.

 

IMG_5207

We cross the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Not much fanfare. No "Welcome to Virginia" Just a square green ICW 63. If you aren't reading the chart as you go, you wouldn't even notice.

We cross the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Not much fanfare. No “Welcome to Virginia” Just a square green ICW 63. If you aren’t reading the chart as you go, you wouldn’t even notice.

ICW markers are popular with birds for their waterfront homes. Seeing more than before, perhaps because this is our first trip heading north in the spring. Looks like the red marker fell over and a temporary floating buoy replaced it. Didn’t bother that bird at all.

ICW markers are popular with birds for their waterfront homes. It’s spring and everyone is nesting.     It looks like the red marker fell over and a temporary floating buoy replaced it. The closeness to the water didn’t bother this bird family at all.

The day began in a routine way, casting off and heading north, just like the many days that preceded it. After crossing the Pimlico River, the Alligator River, Albemarle Sound, and the North River (Coinjock), you would have thought we were done with potentially rough waters, but Currituck Sound and North Landing River gave us quite a ride! There was more “traffic” on the water than we had seen since beginning of this northbound trip three weeks ago. The bows of sailboats were splashing up and down in the strong winds and very choppy water in Currituck Sound. The top of our flybridge may be 18 feet above the water’s surface, but the water sprayed up and over our bow all over Kindred Spirit. Much to our surprise, and Al’s dismay after his hard work, the “spray” was sometime more like a wave of water. She was so clean….. and this river water is so brown.

Once we were into the narrower stretches of the ICW, the waters calmed and we settled into following the ICW route into Pungo Ferry. Well, things were calmer, and narrower, but there was also more boat traffic as well as barges and tugs.

I call this part of the trip “Dances with Barges.” The drama began with this sight coming around a bend —

"Time to Go", the trawler traveling ahead of us, rounds past a tug and barge that is off to the side of the ICW. This one was Aries, a tug-barge combo we would get to know rather well over the next few hours.

“Time to Go”, the trawler traveling ahead of us, rounds past a tug and barge that is off to the side of the ICW. This one was “Aries”, a tug-barge combo we would get to know rather well over the next few hours.

Aha! Aries was off to the side to let this southbound tug and barge pass by. Time to Go is caught in the middle.

Aha! Aries was off to the side to let this southbound tug and barge pass by. Time to Go is caught in the middle.

The ICW is narrow and winding here so the tugs and their barges aren’t visible until you round a bend. Fortunately, the VHF radios kept us in touch with each other. The barge captions were all patient.

Southbound John Parrish coming at us.

Southbound John Parrish coming at us.

Shortly after - southbound Kodiak coming at us.

Shortly after – southbound Kodiak coming at us.

Southbound Evelyn Doris coming at us.

Southbound Evelyn Doris coming at us.

We are all approaching the North Landing Bridge (a swing bridge) for its 10:30 am opening. Time to Go passes through, and then we pass through, noticing the damage recently caused by a barge.

We are all approaching the North Landing Bridge (a swing bridge) for its 10:30 am opening. Time to Go passes through, and then we pass through, noticing the damage recently caused by a barge.

Aries passes through behind us, with Asylum and Cutting Class steaming up as fast as they can while begging the bridge tender not to close before they get there. Marcia sweet-talked the bridge and Asylum flat out told him that if he began to close the bridge now both boats would be unable to stop in time. They got through!

Aries passes through behind us, with Asylum and Cutting Class steaming up as fast as they can while begging the bridge tender not to close before they get there. Marcia sweet-talked the bridge and Asylum flat out told him that if he began to close the bridge now both boats would be unable to stop in time. They got through!

Aries informs all of us that he will now move ahead and lead the pack to Great Bridge Bridge (not a typo, that’s the name) and then into the Great Bridge Lock. We are all aiming for the 12:00 bridge opening, because it only opens on the hour.

Aries pushes past us with its barge ahead.

Aries pushes past us with its barge ahead.

 Stumps, snags and deadheads line the shore. It is narrow here and no one wants to move over too close and get caught on them. The term “deadheads” does not relate to Grateful Dead fans at all.

Stumps, snags and deadheads line the shore’s edge. It is narrow here and not gets shallow quickly. No one wants to move over too close and get snagged on any sunken deadheads. The term “deadheads” does not relate to Grateful Dead fans at all.

Before we get to Great Bridge, we all had to get through the Centreville Turnpike Bridge's 11:30 am opening so that we could make the noon opening of Great Bridge Bridge. We have become quite a line-up of boats.

Before we get to Great Bridge, we all had to get through the Centreville Turnpike Bridge’s 11:30 am opening so that we could make the noon opening of Great Bridge Bridge. We have become quite a line-up of boats.

This caught my eye as we exited the Centerville Bridge - a Bahamas courtesy flag still flying on the mast.

This caught my eye as we exited the Centerville Bridge – a Bahamas courtesy flag still flying on the mast. Most of us take them down when we return to the U.S. I thought you had to take them down?

Great Bridge both sides

Aries leads the rest of us through.

Great Bridge Lock is coordinated with Great Bridge Bridge. On we all go……… One tug and barge followed by 9 “rec” boats as the commercial guys referred to us on the VHF radio. At least I assumed they mean “rec” for recreational boats and not “wreck.”

Into the lock – Aries with barge on the starboard side, and all of "rec" boats on portside

Into the lock – Aries with barge on the starboard side, and all of “rec” boats on portside

Ready and waiting for the lock to fill.

Ready and waiting for the lock to fill.

And out we go! Rec boats first.

And out we go! Rec boats first.

A few more bridges (open railroad bridges and the Gilmertin Bridge) and we are in Portsmouth. Whew. What a day! We will reconsider the Dismal Swamp route next time. It may be longer and a bit shallower, but it requires no dancing with barges and bridges.

Instead of anchoring at Hospital Point as we usually do, we decided to try the free docks in downtown Portsmouth, two small cut-out harbors.. This one, North Landing, seemed to be roomier and no one else was there at that hour. The only thing we had to contend with was the constant in and out of the ferry boat. But it’s a free dock for the night, so who cares about noise and some wakes???

Portmsouth free docks

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit, at another dock.

Using our headsets (Christmas present to each other) to dock in Portsmouth. We don’t use them a lot, but when we do they really help. The distance from the flybridge down to the bow or stern makes it hard to hear each other over the engine. At first it felt like “cheating” because we never used anything like this on the sailboats, but it sure does make it easier in potentially tricky docking or anchoring.

A selfie with our bluetooth wireless headsets by Cruising Solutions, a Christmas present to each other.  We don’t use them a lot, but when we do they really help. The distance from the flybridge down to the bow or stern makes it hard to hear each other over the engine. At first it felt like “cheating” because we never used anything like this on the sailboats, but it sure does make it easier in potentially tricky docking or anchoring. We used them here in Portsmouth because there were no dock hands to assist at this free dock.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Portsmouth.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Portsmouth.

Not the most exciting segment of the journey, nor the prettiest for sure, but it was part of the journey and has been duly recorded. Done.

Brrrrrrr…….. Shivering Through North Carolina

Anthony was up bright and early to cast off our lines. We hope to see them again when they travel north to New England this summer. Bye!

Anthony was up bright and early to cast off our lines. We hope to see them again when they travel north to New England this summer. Bye!

It’s been chilly, perhaps one might even declare it to be cold. If you are living in a house, 49 degrees may only be chilly, but on a boat without heating, 49 degrees outside has translated into 52- 54 degrees at night in our cabin. That is cold. Now I wish we had brought along our flannel sheets! I have been wearing socks with my Keen sandals to keep my toes cozy.

We departed Osprey Marina in South Carolina with plans to reach North Carolina, at least to Southport, hopefully to Carolina Beach.  The sky was still a dusky gray-blue as we left the dock.

The Waccamaw River's colors swiftly changed from dusky gray-blue to a rosy glow.

The Waccamaw River’s colors swiftly changed from dusky gray-blue to a rosy glow. One of my favorite pictures of our days in Waccamaw River.

This was the first time our northbound voyage that we pulled out the heavy duty cold weather gear - hats, gloves, blanket. Not our best fashion statement, even for cruisers.

This was the first time our northbound voyage that we pulled out the heavy duty cold weather gear – hats, gloves, blanket. Not our best fashion statement, even for cruisers.

Cold rowing on the ICW ! We passed four of these boats in one section. The crews were mixed age groups. As we slowed to pass by, I stood outside and chatted with them. They were cold, too. And closer to the water.

Cold rowing on the ICW ! We passed four of these boats in one section. The crews were mixed age groups. As we slowed to pass by, I stood outside and chatted with them. They were cold, too. And closer to the water.

Big casino boats at dock near the Calabash River.

Big casino boats at dock near the Calabash River.

We made Southport in good time, only 7.5 hours, so we decided to brave the Cape Fear River and continue on. The current was in the right direction, but the wind was from the north. It was a “vigorous” ride, especially through the rip. There were 20+ knots of wind and  5-foot seas.Taking some water over the bow and upwards!

An attempted photo of our vigorous ride up the Cape Fear River. We were on the flybridge – photo taken through the closed plastic. I is easy to see how this river was named. In conditions worse than this, "fear" could be the word of the day.

An attempted photo of our vigorous ride up the Cape Fear River. We were on the flybridge (photo taken through the closed plastic.) It is easy to see how this river was named. In conditions worse than this, “fear” could be the word of the day.

This sailboat was having some trouble In the middle of the river. His anchor had fallen off the bow near the red nun, and a large barge was heading northward. We could hear them communicating on the VHF. to avoid any possible collision.

This sailboat was having some trouble In the middle of the river. His anchor had fallen off the bow near the red nun, and a container ship was heading northward. We could hear them communicating on the VHF  to avoid any possible collision.

The barge passes us by. There can be heavy barge and container ship traffic on the Cape Fear. BTW, the sailboat recovered his dropped anchor after the barge passed him.

The barge passes us by. There can be heavy traffic on the Cape Fear with the barges and container ships, plus ferries. BTW, the sailboat recovered his dropped anchor after the barge passed him.

Turning into Snows Cut, we noticed that the waters had a very curious look. It must have been near a tidal change because very dark water was next to lighter water, almost as though the two bodies of water met but refused to mingle. This occurred on both sides of Snows Cut.

Turning into Snows Cut, we noticed that the waters had a very curious look. It must have been near a tidal change because very dark water was next to lighter water, almost as though the two bodies of water met but refused to mingle. Salt and fresh? Dirty ICW/river water  and clearer ocean water?  We don’t know. This occurred on both sides of Snows Cut.

We were still making very good time, so we passed by Carolina Beach and went on to Wrightsville Beach, anchoring in Motts Channel in our usual spot (10.5 hour day, 78 nautical miles.)

The next day, Friday, April 15, continued to be cold. We opted to remain in the salon and steer from the lower helm. No flybridge today. Wimpy, but more comfortable.

Wrightsville Beach to Swansboro, 48 nautical miles, was a day of timing bridges, even though Al and Anthony had lowered our mini-mast. These bridges require careful timing or you could miss a scheduled opening (they are not “on request”) and be forced to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. — Beach Bridge, Figure 8 Bridge, Onslow Beach Bridge.

As we turned out of Motts Channel , we saw SS Sophie docked just before the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.

As we turned out of Motts Channel , we saw the SS Sophie docked just before the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.

Traveling through the Camp Lejeune section, we recalled the helicopters and military drills in the ICW during our first southern passage in 2013. This time we only saw tanks and orange cut-out men on the eastern side of ICW. Target practice??

Traveling through the Camp Lejeune section, we recalled the helicopters and military drills in the ICW during our first southern passage in 2013. This time we only saw abandoned (?) tanks and orange cut-out men on the eastern side of ICW. Target practice??

Swansboro

Swansboro

Needing a rest stop, we chose Swansboro, a waterfront town we had missed on prior trips. The On the Water ChartGuides and Active Captain both said it was possible to anchor here in the little harbor, but we were the only boat in town, on anchor. Before dropping the anchor, we toured around a bit to check the depths, and went over a little too far — our first grounding of this 2015-2016 travel (if you don’t count the deliberate one to clean the boat’s bottom in the Bahamas.) No worries. A little shifting and maneuvering and the captain had her off the mud and moving again.

The winds were still strong, and the current was running swiftly through this anchorage, holding us in one direction.

The winds were still strong, and the current was running swiftly through this anchorage, holding us in one direction. The boat made circles all night and day, but not in a 360 around the anchor, just in loops. Al kept the iPad on so he could monitor the swinging. Made quite a design.

Zoomed out view on left, Zoomed in view on right.   The boat made loops  all night and day, but not in a 360 around the anchor, just in loops off to one side of the anchor. The anchor is the upper right blue dot. The lower blue dot is the location of the boat when we pulled anchor the next day. Al kept the iPad on so he could monitor the swinging. Made quite a design.

Swansboro was a nice place to walk about and stretch the legs. The “main” street had gift shops and restaurants, most with a unique flavor of their own.

Swansboro waterfront view.

Swansboro waterfront view.

Lunch at Church Street Irish Pub & Deli – good burgers in a funky little restaurant.

Lunch at Church Street Irish Pub & Deli – good burgers in a funky little restaurant.

The most unusual store was named Poor Man’s Hole filled with antiques and vintage “stuff,” great for browsing or unearthing that unique special something that you didn’t know you needed or wanted. But had to have. (We only looked, no buying!)

The upper porch of Poor Man's Hole has matching his and her figureheads. Wouldn't that look nice on our house in Connecticut?

The upper porch of Poor Man’s Hole has matching his and her figureheads. Wouldn’t that look nice on our house in Connecticut?

A feast for the eyes if you like roaming through curious places looking at unusual items.

A feast for the eyes if you like roaming through curious places looking at unusual items. We do!

Look here! We could buy a figurehead to bring home! How cool would that be? We passed the opportunity up.

Look here –  We could buy a figurehead to bring home! How cool would that be? In the end, we passed the opportunity up.

Calm enough to cook a pot of sausage lentil soup while underway. Simmering soup helped to warm the cabin and then our tummies.

Calm enough to cook a pot of sausage lentil soup while underway. Simmering soup helped to warm the cabin and then our tummies.

Our day’s layover in Swansboro became one night and a partial day. After our lunch in Swansboro (followed by a nap), the Captain declared we would pull anchor and continue on (3:30 in the afternoon??) Never dull on this ship. It was a good decision – 2 hours farther and we anchored in a marina community cove called Spooner Creek which was much, much calmer.

Cinnamon apple raisin oatmeal keeps us warm on another cold morning.

Oatmeal with apples and raisins keeps us warm on the next cold morning.

 

Onward to Oriental, arriving around 10:00 am so we had the day to visit with Cutting Class. Here we are in Oriental, together once again! An extra bonus – our friends, John and Debra on Mandalay are also in Oriental.

Cutting Class at one of Oriental's free town docks (available for for 2 nights only within a 30-day time period). Mandalay, a classic 50+ foot steel hull Berger at the marina's dock.

Cutting Class at one of Oriental’s free town docks (available for for 2 nights only within a 30-day time period). We wish more towns and harbors were as accommodating as Oriental.
Mandalay, a classic 50+ foot steel-hull Berger at the marina’s dock. Like us, this is John and Debra’s 3rd boat with the same name. Sometimes you just get attached to a name and identify with it too much to ever give it up.

There was no room at the town’s free dock so we stayed out in the anchorage. Oriental has several “webcams” on their town website, TownDock.net, so we were checking the town docks and the anchorage before we even arrived. Wish more places had webcams!

Oriental TownDock.net webcams

Oriental TownDock.net webcams – Harbor view and anchorage view (These photos were after we left, which is why there are open docks and an empty anchorage!)

Our leg muscles had a nice stretch again with a walk around Oriental. The town certainly looked quite different than our previous 6-day visit in October waiting for Joachim and the torrential rains to pass by.  The streets are dry this time!

For a small town and harbor, there are a lot of fishing trawlers here.

Pleasure boats, power and sail, share the harbor with fishing boats. For a small town, there are a lot of fishing trawlers here.

"The Bean", the local hang-out for coffee, breakfast and ice cream. This time you can walk right up to the steps instead of kayak or wade to it, if at all.

“The Bean”, the local hang-out for coffee, breakfast and ice cream. This time we could  walk right up to the steps instead of kayak or wade to it, if at all.

So, how did Oriental get its name? The small town was originally known as Smith’s Creek, but in 1886 the new postmaster’s wife, Rebecca, thought the village needed a better name. Rebecca was obviously a woman ahead of her time, thinking of marketing possibilities. One version of the naming story says that Rebecca found the nameplate from the 1862 wreck of the  Civil War sailing steamer “Oriental” on the beaches of the Outer Banks and thought that name was more suitable. Another story says she just saw the nameplate in a Manteo home. Regardless, the name “Oriental” made such an impression on Rebecca that the village became known as Oriental a few years after the post office was established and the town was incorporated in 1899.

Oriental is a town that takes its name seriously.

Oriental is a town that takes its name seriously. Note the “oriental” style of lettering on the yacht club’s pavillion.

Dragons abound (and afloat) through Oriental. The dragon is the town's mascot, also continuing the oriental theme of its name.

Dragons abound (and afloat) through Oriental. The dragon is the town’s mascot, also continuing the oriental theme of its name. This is the first time we  saw this little gem of a dragon because in October it was under water.

The Captains of Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit had time to problem solve a Garmin chart plotter issue. Problem solving - two heads are better than one. Problem solved successfully!

Problem solving – two heads are better than one. Problem solved successfully! The Captains of Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit had time to problem solve a Garmin chart plotter issue. A problem that Garmin was unable to solve. Aha!

John holding Zoe, Dan, Marcia, Debra, Me. and Al - group selfie thanks to Al's long arm.

John holding Zoe, Dan, Marcia, Debra, me,  and Al – group selfie thanks to Al’s long arm.We had a another great cruiser happy hour with friends along the way.

From Osprey Marina in South Carolina to Oriental, North Carolina – four days and 170 miles. This northbound journey has been more about the friends we connect with along the way than it is about the places. We are moving quickly. Why? A baby shower for our newest grandchild, a granddaughter, on May 7th is quickly approaching……….