Thursday, April 18, 2019

Home Again, Safe and Sound

We left Solomons before the sun was up and were treated to a gorgeous sunrise as we motored out to the Chesapeake. We did not have enough wind to sail until we were less than an hour from home, but we put the sails up anyway for the last few miles. As we rounded the corner into Cambridge Creek we saw a group of our friends at our slip, waiting to greet us!  What a nice surprise and what great friends. It is one of the many things we love about our town and why we are happy to be home. 
Some stats from our trip:
3260 total nautical miles
140 days on the boat
72 days of sailing

Beautiful sunrise

Breeze On approaching her slip

Backing up into the slip (I am grateful to be lined up properly). Photo credits of Breeze On go to Katie

Greeting committee, l-r: Ray, Stan, Bob (seated), Jim (with Sophie), Katie and Xander

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Live Fire Exercise - Yikes!

This morning, as we motored north on the bay, we heard a Navy patrol boat attempting to contact a sailboat on the VHF radio. The person from Navy Prince asked for the northbound sailboat crossing the Potomac. We happened to be in that area, but so were a few other boats. One sailboat that was behind us answered the call and was told to move a little farther west to get out of the Navy’s live fire range. There is a target boat on the east side of the bay and we assumed that the Navy was going to be shooting at it sometime soon. We had heard a Navy boat asking boats to move out of range yesterday so we had been expecting it. We thought we were already enough to the west, but apparently we weren’t. One of the Navy patrol boats again hailed the northbound sailboat and started moving toward us.  George answered on the radio and we were indeed asked to move farther west. We did as we were asked and watched for the exercise to begin. A helicopter flew over a few times but that was all. Once we were anchored at Solomons we heard jets circling overhead several times as we were eating our early dinner in the cockpit. Maybe that was the exercise. In any case, we were happy not to be part of the Navy’s target practice. 

This should be our last night out before returning home. We plan to leave early in the morning in order to beat strong winds that are due in the late afternoon. It has been a very nice winter but it will be nice to be home again. 

Navy Patrol 777 motoring by. The target ship is the fainter spot behind it. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Anchored Again

We left Cape Charles late this morning and motor-sailed north to Ingram Bay. We stopped here last fall on our way south and thought it was a beautiful and protected spot. It is just as pretty as we remembered. As we were making our way here-and dodging all of the crab pots-George realized we would be anchoring for the first time since we left the Bahamas, about six weeks ago. Fortunately, we managed to remember how. 
While we were in Cape Charles yesterday we noticed a person on one of the few boats in the marina so we walked over to say hello. We met Kenny and Kristin on their very nice Lord Nelson Victory Tug boat, a cruising boat that looks like a tug boat. They gave us a tour and we later joined them at Kelly’s in town for drinks. They are a friendly and interesting couple and, like us, they love Cape Charles. 

Mill Creek off of Ingram Bay

Monday, April 15, 2019

Beaufort, NC to Cape Charles, VA

We left Beaufort, NC just after 6 am on Saturday, April 13. We were mentally prepared for uncomfortable conditions for the first four hours and we were not disappointed. Once we left the protected waters of Beaufort Inlet we were heading into six foot seas, with the occasional eight foot wave. Since we were heading directly into the wind we didn’t bother putting the sails up but our progress was slow. We were expecting the seas to calm down by noon but they didn’t. In fact, they remained quite gnarly until we reached Cape Hatteras in the early evening. We did put the sails up shortly after we passed Cape Lookout in the early afternoon. Because the waves were large and confused the boat was rocking side to side and caused the halyard to become caught around the spreader and radar reflector. George had to go up on deck to get it loose; fortunately, the rocking actually helped him to loosen it this time. 
My usual 7 pm-midnight watch started about an hour before we made our turn at Cape Hatteras. George stayed up in the cockpit and napped in case he was needed for sail changes. We were getting an assist from the Gulf Stream current and our speed was good. Because we were heading dead downwind we furled our self-tacking jib so we could sail a deeper angle. We left the full main up, cranked down on the boom brake, and George went to bed. I was able to sail at angles of about 150-170 degrees but still had to gybe every hour or so. The boom brake normally makes that easy and allows the boom to cross gently to the other side. Not so much for me in that night. Not matter how slowly I turned the wheel or eased up on the boom brake line, the boom was either stuck on the windward side or slamming over to the leeward side. When my watch finally ended and George came back up on deck we decided to drop the main and motor so he wouldn’t have to continue gybing. 
It was really foggy when I came up on deck to relieve George at 6 am and remained foggy all day. We were both happy to have AIS, radar and radar reflectors so that we could see other boats and they could see us in that heavy fog. 
Since we were trying to beat a cold front due to arrive in the early evening we kept motoring instead of sailing and gybing. Our timing was good, we pulled into Cape Charles Town Harbour and Marina just after 5 pm and just ahead of the high winds. We slept well, in spite the 50 knot winds gusts that occurred overnight. The marina is practically empty, we are the only boat on our dock. We shouldn’t have any trouble finding an empty shower here!

Foggy conditions all day long 

Radar (round thing in the middle) and radar reflectors (tubes on either side of radar)

Breeze On on the empty dock

Friday, April 12, 2019

Moving On

We are still planning to leave Beaufort in the morning. We will be heading into the wind and waves for the first four hours so it will likely be quite gnarly until we round Cape Lookout. 
This afternoon we took another walk around town and stopped at Cru Wine and Coffee Bar. George ordered a hot cafe mocha and I had an iced latte. Their sign says they have the best coffee in town and it really is quite good. If you zoom into the photo and look at the bottom left you will see George sitting at the outdoor table drinking his mocha. After we finished our coffees way we meandered through town and walked by the courthouse with its beautiful live oak trees and azaleas. We have enjoyed our time in Beaufort but feel ready to move on. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

We Have a Plan

It looks as if we will have an opportunity to leave Beaufort on Saturday, round Cape Hatteras, and enter the Chesapeake Bay on Sunday afternoon. The entire trip is just over 200 nautical miles and should take us about 36 hours. Now that the days are longer we should be able to leave just as the sun is rising and tie up to the dock at Cape Charles before dark. Of course, this all depends on the weather and is subject to change. 
We had some good luck yesterday and found the single bathroom and washing machine available.  We did our laundry and were each able to shower. It was a blustery day here and there wasn’t much happening at the fishing end of the business here. We suspect that is why the facilities were available. In the afternoon we took the marina’s loaner car to the Piggly Wiggly for a few provisions and were back within a half hour. 
Two of our dock neighbors are traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway and left the dock this morning. One boat had a nice young couple from Maine who took time off of work to take a trip to the Bahamas. They left Maine in November and have to be back in Maine by May 1st. It has been quite an adventure for them. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Good News

Good news! The toilet is fixed! George was finally able to stop the leaks after working on it all day yesterday and a few hours this morning. After that was out of the way we walked into town, checked out some restaurants and a few shops. We walked by Beaufort Docks, where we stayed last fall. We were surprised to see that it is less than half full, whereas last fall it was jam-packed. It seems as if it is still early in the season for boats heading north. There are more people than I originally thought staying on their boats here at Homer Smith Docks and Marina. We talked with one man who lives on his boat here and he said the bathroom and laundry are always busy, but he said the marina does have plans to add more bathrooms and laundry facilities. That would be great because it really is a nice place. 
This afternoon we returned to town for dinner at Moonrakers. The food was absolutely delicious but we saved some room for ice cream at the General Store. 

Homer Smith Seafood and Homer Smith Docks and Marina. The small building in the center is filled with crushed ice that is used by the fishing boats.