Sunday, August 14, 2022

Our Plans

 It has been a while since I have written in this blog. It has been a hot summer on the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia. We have had many days in a row over 90 degrees and some with heat indexes over 100. That is really not news, it has been hot all over the US. When it gets hot we do just like everyone else and turn on the Air Conditioning and hunker down. 

We have been doing a walk almost every morning. Kim is up early and prefers to walk before breakfast. I wait until a bit later and try to walk a bit over 3 miles. We have also been swimming in the pool here at the marina and taking advantage of the very nice workout gym. This place has worked out well for us. 

My walks from the marina are through the local neighborhoods. It is a beautiful time of year with lots of beautiful flowering trees and other flowers. 

One of the places I walk to is a quiet little cemetery that has graves that date back to the late 1800's. 

If you zoom in on the picture you can see what I wanted to capture. A doe and her two spotted fawns.

We thought that we would cruise around the bay while we are here, but that has not happened. It has been too hot and stormy. The bay can be treacherous during the hot summer months and anchoring out can be very unpleasant. We prefer the protection and electricity in the marina. 

We did take one day trip out on the bay and had a good time in winds ranging from 15 to 20 knots. 

It was fun to get out the sails and just sail to the wind. We did not have a plan other than to return to the marina in the evening.

It is hard to see in this shot, but there were about 20 ocean going cargo ships at anchor waiting to go into Baltimore.

We saw this huge cargo ship coming into the bay. It was 1000 feet long and going over 15 knots.

This is the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. It is a tunnel between the two terminals. They built this to ensure that the Navy ships in Norfolk could get to sea if the bridge in Norfolk was blown and blocked the harbor. 

The yellow line is our track. We ended up sailing 40 nm in about 8 hours. We did have to make a couple of tacks to get back to the marina, but that just made the day interesting. We also encountered some strong currents as indicated by the red arrows. We at one point were going over 9 knots SOG and then we turned and were going less than 3 knots with good wind and full sails. 

We had our friends Dave and Diane offer to take us to the Mariners Museum in Newport News. It is a famous museum because they have parts of the "Monitor", which is one of the first ironclads that fought a famous battle during the civil war here in Hampton Roads. 

This is a recreation of the inside of the turret on Monitor. They did an amazing job telling the story of the building and the battle with the CS Virginia.

They even built a full size replica of Monitor

Here I am with the original propeller that was pulled from the sea floor off the Virginia shore.

The museum also has the 2013 US Americas Cup winning boat. They came back from a huge deficit to win the cup in San Francisco Bay.

They also have the Fresnel lens from the old lighthouse at Cape Charles

We have had the opportunity to get out of the marina, but we have spent most of our time relaxing and enjoying our quiet time. That quiet time is about to end. 

We are now getting ready to move SHIFT to the boatyard. We will have her hauled out of the water this coming Friday (8/19). We will spend the weekend doing some work on the boat to get her ready to rest about 6 weeks. We will then get a ride up to Richmond to fly out on the 23rd back to Missouri. We will stay in Missouri for about 5 weeks and then take a driving trip to Colorado and Texas to see our parents and as many family members as possible. We are looking forward to seeing the family and spending some time on land. I expect to spend some time riding motorcycles, playing golf and watching the grandkids activities. We will have the bottom of the boat soda blasted while we are gone to prepare it for a new barrier coat and fresh bottom paint. We will arrive back in Virginia on October 10th and then get to work getting the boat ready to splash. Once we are back in the water, we may spend some time cruising around the bay or we will head south. The ultimate goal this next season will be to finally make it to the Bahamas. We will see how that goes. 

I will end this entry with this shot I took from the dock in the marina. We have had some awesome sunsets while we have been here. 


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Activities in Hampton, Virginia

 We have now been in Hampton, Virginia for over a month. I like living in a marina. I enjoy the quiet weekdays and ease of getting on and off the boat. You might think we would get bored. Some times we do, but that is fine with us. We like to catch up on reading and getting some long walks in. We also have a swimming pool at this marina and we have been keeping cool by swimming many days. We don't have a car, which does limit our activities. We have some new friends that have offered to let us use theirs, so when we have the need or desire, we can make local trips to see attractions or get things done. 

I would classify our activities into three areas.  Boat work, Attractions and entertainment and logistical activities. 

One thing I like to do when I have time is to fish, or in the case here in Virginia, crab. I have been somewhat successful catching crabs with chicken gizzard on a string and scooping them with a net. We had dinner of crab one night and I made a gumbo on another. 

Crabs have to be 6 inches point to point. This guy was 7 inches. These are blue crabs.

Picking the crab is a lot of work, but they are very tasty.

I picked these three and put them in my gumbo.

In the area of boat work, we have been doing some repairs and some scheduled maintenance. We had a eye fail during our sail from Miami to West Palm Beach.

This eye failed from galvanic corrosion. The eye is made of stainless steel and it is housed in the base of the Hoyt boom which is aluminum. Add in regular douses of salt water and you have a perfect recipe for corrosion that leads to failure. I replaced it with a much larger and stronger part. 

 I have also replaced both fuel filters and the engine oil and filter. I have cleaned both sea strainers and generally gone over the entire engine. I did replace the raw water impeller. When I checked it, most of the vanes were cracked and ready to fail. I am really glad I did that. 

The other thing we did was more repair work on the canvas. When we had much of it down in Hilton Head we saw other problems. So, we ordered some zippers and replaced three of them and put in two more patches. Kim did her usual awesome job on the sewing machine. Hopefully we are now good to go for a while. The good news is that we are getting better at taking it all down and putting it back up. That may come in handy if we need to do storm prep one day. 

Just like much of the US, it has been very hot in the Chesapeake Bay this summer. We can't get really excited about sailing around the bay and anchoring out at night when the low temps are well up in the 80's. It is very hard to do when we have a slip here at our marina, that is paid for, that allows us to just turn on the AC at night and be very comfortable. I guess we are just getting soft. 

We did find one nice low wind day to take the dinghy on a little adventure. We took it out the inlet and around the corner to the beach. There was enough swell to make the landing and departure interesting, but we made it and didn't get too wet. 

No blog entry would be complete without a Kim on a beach picture

Our Dinghy on the beach with the breakwater that makes up one side the inlet behind.

Here is the inlet into our marina. You can see our friends on their Island Packet 38 coming out on the calm day.

I just liked this shot. We had the beach all to ourselves. 

 The area is filled with history. You could easily call this the cradle of European expansion (or invasion depending on your perspective) into what is now the United States. We would like to go learn more about that history while we are here. Our first stop would be Yorktown. Yorktown was the site of one of the deciding battles of the Revolutionary war. It is also an important place throughout the history of this place because of it's location high on a rocky bluff overlooking the York river. 

Yorktown is a National Monument run by the National Park Service and therefore our National Park Pass got us in for free. We started our visit with a movie at the visitor center. Nice on the hot day.

This monument was built 100 years after it was approved by congress.

Beautiful site overlooking the York River. Too far to see, but there are sailboats out in the river.

Many of the houses in the colonial town are inhabited today.

Kim enjoying some shade.

Thanks to our friend Dave, that lives on his boat behind us at the marina for letting us borrow his car for the day. After visiting Yorktown, we had the best Philly Cheesesteak I have had in a long time and then went to do some provisioning. 

We also went to check out a boatyard to see if it would work for us to leave our boat so that we could get some work done, while we travel back to Missouri. We had planned to visit two yards, one of which we had talked to, and sent requested information about our boat, but had never called me back after they said they would. We went to another yard that was recommended by the dockmaster at our marina and it just felt right. We have come to rely on our gut feelings and it ticked all the boxes. We now were ready to make future plans. 

What are those plans? You may ask...Well, I will tell you about those in my next entry. I will tell you now, it is going to get complicated.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Video Updates from Georgetown, South Carolina to Hampton, Virginia

 I recorded video updates as we traveled along from Georgetown, South Carolina to Hampton, Virginia. All of this travel was along the ICW that is detailed in my blog, but the video updates does give a different perspective. 

We had some beautiful sunrises and sunsets along the way

We had some smooth sailing and some storms

All in all it was a great trip

Click on the links below to see the videos: 

Georgetown, South Carolina to Carolina Beach, North Carolina: Click on this link to watch video

Carolina Beach to Belhaven, North Carolina: Click on this link to watch video

Belhaven, North Carolina to Hampton, Virginia: Click on this link to watch video

Thanks for Watching!

Monday, July 18, 2022

Southall Landings Marina

 We arrived at Southall Landings Marina on June 20th. The approach was easy and we were amazed by the friendly people that we met in the first hours we were at the dock. We had offers to assist us in almost every way and even to borrow their car to provision and to visit the local attractions. We have to say this is the friendliest marina we have ever been to. 

I love natural beauty and wildlife. Southall Landings is located in a tidal marsh and is full of wildlife. We have seen many waterfowl and wading birds. We have also been lucky enough to see the local otters swimming between the boats. The other wildlife that I have taken interest in, are the crabs. I have been able to catch a dinner of crabs right from the boat on a couple days that I have tried. 

In this entry, I will focus on the birds. I spent most of one day with my big camera shooting the birds and other things flying in the area. Langley Air Force Base is very close to us and we see many very cool aircraft flying in and out of the base. This is the training base for the F-22 Raptor, which is a very cool new stealth fighter jet. 

We have a number of large Osprey in the area. We are thinking that they have been responsible for the missing ducklings. 

Osprey are amazing looking birds in flight

This little green heron eats the little fish and crabs in the shallows 

I saw this female Mallard Duck with two ducklings. I was told that they were a family of 10 just a few days ago.

Mom with two little ones

I think this is a juvenile Blue Heron

Just love this image

I watched this Blue Heron catch and wrestle this large fish. The amazing thing is they ate it. 

These look like angels to me.

These look like X-wing fighters to me. 

This is an F-22 Raptor

Another one at a distance

Cuteness overload

A flight of trainers

We are able to take our dinghy from our slip out to a beach. We have access to a pool and we are in a secure gated community. All of that for $300 per month. We really like it here and I can tell why many people we have met have chosen to stay here and live year round. I am sure it gets cold in the winter, but it is a very protected place from storms. 

We knew when we arrived that we had some work to do on the boat. We had to do all of our periodic maintenance on the engine after putting on 150 hours in our trip north. We also had to fix the staysail fitting that broke in the storm off of Miami. Then on the first morning we were here, the propane solenoid failed. Now we could not cook on the stove or oven. I ordered the part and then when it got here I needed some additional fittings. There is an Ace hardware close by and I asked to borrow a car. "No problem" was the replay and in a few hours, we were good to go. Have I told you how much we love this place?

In my next entry, I will write about some adventures we have been on since we arrived in Virginia.   

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Coinjock, NC to Hampton, Virginia

 We arrived at the marina in Coinjock, NC on June 17th. We had not planned to get there until the following day, but the thunderstorm warnings motivated us to arrive a day early. The storms passed overnight and the wind blew a bit, but all was fine. We awoke on Saturday, June 18th to sunny skies with strong north winds.

We spent the first part of the day doing laundry and checking out the huge boats along the face dock in the marina. The Coinjock marina is a regular stop along the Atlantic ICW. It is the last stop for most boats heading for the Chesapeake Bay. The have a long face dock in the protected river. I am sure that a couple of thousand boats stop here each year. It was clear on this beautiful day that they could handle even the largest boat. We saw one that was way over 100 feet long and many that were close to that. They put us on the north dock, which allowed us to stay for the 2 nights without moving. Almost all boats come here for just one night. The main attraction here is the restaurant. The restaurant is famous for their Prime Rib. 

While I travel, I periodically post on Facebook a few pictures of where we are for friends that do not read this blog. A friend saw that we were going to be in this area, which is where they have a place on the Albemarle Sound. Merry contacted me to see if we could get together. We love catching up with friends, so I made contact when we arrived and arranged to try out the prime rib together. 

Merry and Chuck's place is over an hour away, so it was awesome that they were willing to make the drive. Merry and I used to work together back in the days that I worked for MICROS Systems. Chuck also worked at the company, but we had never met. We had an awesome time catching up and enjoying the good southern food. I opted for the fried chicken and Kim had the prime rib allowing us to try both. 

Merry and Chuck and Kim and I in front of the Coinjock, Marina 

 Merry and Chuck were nice enough to take us to a grocery store to get some provisions for the last legs of our trip north. We are hoping to see them again while we are in the Chesapeake Bay area.

Here is the look along the face dock. The two boats in front are around 80 feet long.

We awoke on June 19th to strong north winds. The winds from the north cause the water to move in the bays and rivers. This creates a strong current. So, we had both the current and wind working against us. We had to start the day, by going out into the open waters of the Currituck Sound. We headed directly north and were making just a little more than 4 knots over ground. It was painfully slow. About half way across the sound, we crossed over into Virginia. 

I tried to get a picture of the conditions as we crossed the Currituck Sound, but you can't see the whitecaps and chop very well. Trust me, it was not the best conditions. 

After a couple of hours, we made it to the protection of the North Landing River. We then passed through the North Landing Natural Area Preserve. It was quite beautiful. The sides were lined with old stumps of cypress trees. No telling how long ago those trees were cut down. 

Cypress stumps along the waterway

We cruised along the river and then canal to the town of Chesapeake, Virginia to the Great Bridge. There is a free dock there that we decided to spend the night if they had space. It turns out that they did and we pulled in and tied up. We then helped two other sailboats get tied up. We had only traveled 32 nm, but that set us up for another short day to make it to our marina. There was a park and a museum there, but sadly the museum was closed. I did some reading and found out that this was the site of one of the earliest actions and a victory for the colonial rebels in the Revolutionary War. 

Just after we arrived at the free dock, two large motor vessels were waiting to open the bridge. This light blue one looked like a space ship.

A shot of SHIFT tied up at the free dock. There is a marina across the river, but we don't need power.

The Great Bridge. The following morning the winds were calm. We were waiting for the on the hour opening. 

Here is a shot of two other boats that were tied up at the free dock.

We made the 9:00 opening of the Great Bridge. The wind had died off and that made the process very easy. Next up was a lock. We had not been through a lock since Coffeeville in Alabama. This lock was very different. The total fall was only 2 feet. It is just put in the river to control tidal flow. Before long we were moving again and headed for Norfolk. 

We were now in the Elizabeth River. We had heard of a bridge that was a problem in this stretch. When we arrived at the bridge, there was a sailboat there that we had helped tie up the day before called "Just Us". He told us he had been waiting for over an hour to get the railroad bridge to open. As it turned out they were waiting for an AMTRAK train. It came and went and still no opening. After another 20 minutes it opened and the highway bridge just after opened and we were both able to get through. 

We started to see larger and larger ships. 

First we saw some freighters

Then we passed through the US Naval Shipyard. There is a Aircraft Carrier and some kind of a transport.

Here is a warship undergoing a refit.

We passed right by this older Aircraft Carrier that is a museum.

Then we passed through the town of Norfolk. They had a cruise ship on the wharf. 

Next was the actual base. Most of the fleet were not there, but they had plenty of ships around 

I had to blow this one up to see the two submarines. Our son Michael served on a sub for 4 years.

This is the largest US Navy base in the world 

One of the newer ships

The experience of passing through the base was awesome. The firepower of the US Navy is just amazing. 

It was then a 7 mile cruise out into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and over to Southall Landings Marina in Hampton, VA. It is an easy inlet and Steve was there to greet us and get us tied up. It felt so good to shut it down and rest. 

The Marina is in an estuary that has a tidal fall of about 2 feet.

There is a long dock that extends from land out over the flats to the deep water of the creek where the docks are located. 

SHIFT in her new home for the next 2 months.

We had been traveling for about 8 weeks since the time we left Marathon on April 30th. It was now June 20th. I have to admit, I was tired and was looking forward to some down time. I also knew I had some work to do to get SHIFT ready to go cruising in the Chesapeake Bay. In my next entry, I will show you more of our new home and tell you about our plans.