You just never know

what you'll see when you look out the window in Norfolk. It's one of the reasons we love to anchor here, the variety of ships, tugs, barges, tankers, sailboats, trawlers, battleships, cruise ships, aircraft carriers, it's an endless variety.

On our morning walk, in search of charts for parts north, we came across "The Tourists", who Steve recognised and we stopped to have a chat. We've decided they're a British couple, they look veddy proper to me.


The Captain and the Ferry

We are sitting in Great Bridge Virginia tonight after transiting the Dismal Swamp Canal. Yes, it is a bit out of the way again...but what's the hurry? (And for those curious, we did find the bottom but only soft) Besides, it's still cold up north. I looked at the Block Island weather last night and saw lows in the low 40's. Nope, not leaving yet. So we'll hang around Norfolk for a bit.

Going back a week or so here is a picture of Lynn at the helm. There are far too few photo's of her on the blog, I'll work on that. This is the day departing Ocracoke. Long channel for deep draft boats, narrow, and of course being overtaken by a very large car ferry. This is most appropriate since today we received notice that her Merchant Mariner Captains Credentials are approved and in the mail to us. So here's the new Capt in command. Yup, I'm busy drinking coffee...

N: 36 deg 43.278'
W: 076 deg 14.493'


Of Blimps and Knitting

Elizabeth City is home of the US Naval Blimp Hangar. All the blimps in the country, except for the Goodyear one, are made at this plant. The hangars are more than 900 feet long and can be seen from the water for miles. It's very cool to see the blimps just hanging out over the edge of the river as we go by.

This was our anchorage the night before we got to Elizabeth City, a lone eagle sits on a lone tree.
We just keep meeting more and more interesting people. The tradition of welcoming cruisers is alive and well in Elizabeth City. The city has a wine and cheese gathering here on the waterfront whenever there are 5 or more boats here. Last night we met sailors from Maine, a beer brewer from Ohio, (the Hopping Frog microbrewery, where they make a double IPA), locals just out for a few weeks of springtime sailing and a knitter who does the most intricate stuff I've ever seen. She supplements their kitty by getting up to $700 for her sweaters. (!!!) As a former knitter, I have great appreciation for her talent and think the sweaters are worth every penny. No, Steven, I didn't order one.


Sunrise was gentle and calm.
Sunset was a little more fiery.

Several days of quiet, deserted anchorages and almost empty waterways have brought us back to Elizabeth City. We liked it a lot last year and made a detour to stop again. We were worried that the free docks that the city has on the water front would be full. Last year they were quite busy and we met lots of new friends and I was looking forward to doing that again. But as we came up the river we could see that they were completely empty. So then I was worried that they were closed for some reason and we'd have to go to Plan B, or at least try to think of a Plan B. We pulled in anyway and were met by the same gentleman who helped us tie up last year. I think he sits in his truck in the parking lot all day so he can be there to help. I guess the docks are empty because we're 2 months earlier than last year and the bulk of the cruisers are still behind us. We had the docks to ourselves for most of the day but now 2 other boats have pulled in and according to what we have termed the 'Lemming Effect', they are right on either side of us, in a row of 14 empty slips.


Some Random Updates

Thanks to Bruce, I've been reminded that I have unanswered questions....
-The red bird is a Red Poll, according to both my Dad and Jackie.
-The yellow thing is a pole mounted, hand crank power generator for a HAM radio. I think Karen came closest to getting it right. I owe you a drink! Hey, Karen, can you also remind Judy that she owes me $5 from our pre-Christmas bet? I'll take that in alcohol, thankyouverymuch.
-The Amazing $2 a bars of soap are working well, so far. Yea.

Too Cold For The Beach, Work Instead

A sand and varnish day. Our beautiful and beautifully finished teak wheel took a beating this winter. One of the bikes had been leaning against it during one of the weekly storm thrashings we had in Oriental. With the rudder moving around from the waves, the wheel turned back and forth and all around for several days. It was dinged and chipped pretty badly and neither one of us really wanted to take on the huge amount of sanding it was going to require. Steve finally bit the bullet and started on it. Not to be outdone, I, too, took up the sandpaper and started in on the aft companionway hatch. The teenage kayakers were back again this afternoon, so we had some comic relief while we sanded. Fortunately, Adjima, the IOE, was on hand to make sure it all went well. She is quite a taskmaster.


Ocracoke, Day IV

Today found us on our 'clown bikes', (Dahon 16" folding mariners) riding to the beach. It was beautiful, empty, the water still a little chilly. We walked for an hour or so, then stopped at the seafood market on the way home and picked out some fresh clams and Red Drum (a white fish) to make some chowder for dinner. The cabana boy is kneading dough as I type, so we'll have fresh bread to go with it. Having a cabana boy around is certainly handy and I highly
recommend it.
There were several bus loads of high school age kids on the island today and so for a few hours the anchorage was filled with brightly colored kayaks. The kids were yelling and laughing, splashing each other and playing bumper cars. Very entertaining to watch.


Ocracoke, Day III

    Just so you all know, cruising is not all fun and games. But sometimes at the end of the day, even a less than ideal day, you can sit back with a cocktail in hand and enjoy the surroundings.

    This one began with a strong backing wind at 0300, straight across the direction we had set our #60 CQR. Blew 30 knots on my wind-meter (some will recall was put back together with small pieces of milk jug as bearings/spacers) so likely somewhat more. In short it was a small, uneventful anchor drag. Pulled forward 20 deg off the first, put down a fluke and we’re set for the duration. The only bad part was 3 AM. Needless to say I’m not getting back to sleep after that, wide awake and wondering could there be another?

    So we sat the day, did some reading. Finished Sir Peter Blake, An Amazing Life, by Alan Sefton. Great talent, competitor, sailor, seamen, leader, turned environmentalist, murdered by a two-bit thief in the mouth of the Amazon River at age 53. Makes you want to take up the cause. As sailing cruisers out here living in the very environment that supports all of us every day, even more so.

Now with the wind lying down, approx 25-30 dolphins came in the harbor to feed/play, so fun to watch.

But there was this little boat, way out here 30 miles far from anywhere across the Pamlico Sound with the wind blowing like stink all day.

Came in and anchored, then took off in their “dinghy”, looks a lot like a pool toy to me, two big men with a cooler. Did they come from afar, or locals camping in the back yard as we all did as kids? But they made it here, and watching progress in the one paddle dink, didn’t drown in the harbor (I was at the ready with our dink as the made for shore and back!) and we are left to wonder for the night of their story….


Ocracoke Day II

Baby ducks everywhere.

A plaque at the British Cemetery.

Wisteria in full bloom, also audibly alive with giant bumble bees.

Lots of good places to walk here, but a surprising amount of traffic for an island.

Today's trek took us to the British Cemetery. In May, 1942,the arctic trawler, HTM Bedfordshire, was sunk by torpedo from a German submarine off the coast. All lives were lost, most of the bodies were never recovered.

Gardens are popping up all over, flowers are blooming, the baby ducks are amazingly cute and fuzzy



The Ocracoke Lighthouse, circa 1823, the nations second oldest still in use.

All I can say is, too bad they were closed.

We are currently anchored in Silver Lake, which is in the middle of Ocracoke, which is on the Outer Banks. The whole island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The only way on is by boat or private plane. It's just 16 miles from one end to the other. The ferries bring cars and motor homes, groceries and beer.
This is a really nice village, although not nearly as friendly as Oriental. Lots of gift shops, some really old, some not. The anchorage is fairly small, houses, condos, seafood markets and restaurants all the way around. The ducks and pelicans are plentiful and always fun to watch. It's nice to be here before the tourist season gets underway and what roads there are are clogged and we might have to wait in line for ice cream.


Just Another Beautiful Sunset Photo

After last night's thunder storms and rain, which thankfully washed off the drifts of yellow pollen from the topsides, tonight is calm, with not a breath of wind. We're hanging out above our anchor, digesting a good dinner and watching the double image of the sunset on the water, listening to the birds and the quiet. I just thought I'd share.


Oriental fishing fleet, through the fog.

The attack of the dreaded North Carolina Pollen.

A very mellow Adjima, after catnip.

Up a mast, without a paddle. Or in this case, "Aren't you supposed to be on belay?"
A lot has happened since I last posted. We finished our remaining at-the-dock-projects and left the slip for the first time in 6 months. (Yea! And yes, it really is just like riding a bike...) Our first stop was just across the Neuss River to South River, a beautiful, secluded anchorage. The eagles played overhead, the osprey fished. Unfortunately, it is a bit too far off the beaten rhumb line, and has no cell service we could find, which means no Internet for us. Not usually a big deal, but we're in the mood to keep in touch, so we pulled anchor the next day and had a lovely lazy sail back across the Neuss to Broad Creek. The service is spotty, but with an antenna booster, it works.
We are currently battling the spring pollen season. North Carolina is covered with pine trees which spew tons and tons of vile, yellow pollen for about a week each spring. Everything is covered with a thick yellow dust, inside the boat and out. Even Adjima has watery eyes and is sneezing. When I combed her yesterday, her fur came out yellow.
We'll be back in Oriental this weekend, to pick up mail, but for now, it's good to sit and watch the sunrise over an empty creek and some deceptively innocuous looking pine trees.