Friday, May 27, 2016

Cape Charles

Due to issues with water depth, we had an early start from Tangier Island this morning. We were bummed about missing breakfast at the Chesapeake House, but waiting to leave would have kept us there until late afternoon, and we really needed to reach Cape Charles today.

Unfortunately we had to motor down,  because the winds were right on our nose. But we made Cape Charles by one o'clock.

Once the boat was secure, we were able to shower at the marina (as opposed to showering on the boat and cutting into our fresh water supply)  and then walk around the town for for a bit. We visited several interesting shops, including a hardware store that harkened back to th the hardware stores of my youth, the type of hardware store that has everything under the sun. Matt was even able to buy some cigars.

We wound up at Kelley's Gingernut Pub for an early dinner, and after a brief rest on the boat and a stroll around some local art galleries, we wound up back there for dessert. The food was good,  and I would love to make it back there sometime for the shepherds pie.

We also met with another sailboat named the Black Dog out of Newport News. The owner, Jim, was a friendly guy, and we had a nice little chat about sailing and kayaking.

Tomorrow we will need to move the boat to the slip were she will reside until the end of June, and then give her a good cleaning. And then Bill and I will drive to Jersey, while Bob and Matt head back to South Carolina. I have hopes that planning will begin for our next voyage soon.

Tangier Island

Another long day, but so worth it. We had intended to leave Mobjack Bay at 7 AM to get an early start for Tangier Island. However, we were all pretty excited to go, and we were up and underway by 6:30.

We initially had to motor, but then got some wind coming up from the south, and where able to put out our sails. We even used the whisker pole for the first time, holding the jib out to sail in a wing on wing configuration. It was a good day for sailing, and the Chesapeake is a beautiful spot to do it in.

We tied up at the Parks Marina on Tangier Island around 3:30. The dock master Milton met us on the pier, and although in his eighties, was quite spry, and was able to help us get tied up very quickly. Upon his recommendation, we opted for the Chesapeake House.

A brief word on Tangier Island. I am not sure I can give it justice by typing words on a smart phone. It is  a very fascinating place, with a rich history. The island is totally isolated from the mainland (the only way on or off the island is by boat or air transportation) and they have their own way of life that might be envied for its simplicity. The impression that I walked away with is that this are good and friendly people.

We arrived at the Chesapeake House at 4,which was good because they close at 5 (most of the island closes down early). They serve family style there, so there were no menus, they just started bringing food. We had ham, corn pudding, pickled beets, fresh baked bread, coleslaw, potato salad, crab cakes, and clam fritters. Everything was delicious, and we stuffed ourselves. Bill and I even bought cookbooks.

Also at dinner, we shared a table with a couple, Hank and Janet. They are the proud owners of the Salt Lick, a trawler in which they are doing the Great Loop. It is always fun to meet other travelers on our trips, and we wish Hank and Janet good luck on completing the loop.

After dinner, we took a nice leisurely stroll around the island and read the various historical plaques placed around the island. Then Bob and I stopped by the Four Brothers Crab House for a free ice cream. Apparently, this is how the Four Brothers Crab House kicks off their summer season -  free ice cream for everyone. We were told that this is their sixth year doing this, and it seemed to be quite the event on the island. It is quite possible the whole island was there.

We had hoped to stay for at least breakfast tomorrow, however it seems that we need to be off early in order to have enough water depth to make it out, or else we would be here until late afternoon tomorrow, which would throw off out time table. Although our time here was short, it was a very enjoyable and interesting side trip on our way to Cape Charles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From Charleston to Chesapeake Bay

Our intent was to cast off Sunday at 9 AM, however we were a bit delayed due to a safety briefing that took a bit longer than planned. However, we cast off at 9:15,so not too delayed. Once in Elliott Cut, we put Matt in the dinghy to stop at the Greaves residence to pick up a couple of missed items. We were than on our way.

At about 10 AM,  we cleared Fort Sumter and were headed for open sea. We made a solid effort to go under sail, but the winds just weren't there, so a lot of motoring was done. This was a concern because we wanted to reach Cape Hatteras with our fuel at 50 percent minimum. We were planning to cut through a slu in the Frying Pan shoals at Cape Fear (something Bob and I had done on a previous trip), and refuel in one of the available ports there. Overnight though, the sea became unfavorable to maintaining that course, and we altered our course to farther out to sea in order to go around those shoals.  By Monday morning, we found more favorable, and we were under sail. Upon checking or fuel, we found that we still had two thirds left, and no longer felt the need to pull into a port. I was very happy about this, because one of the goals of this trip was to have a contiguous run to the Chesapeake Bay.

Having resolved to press on, our next milestone would be Cape Lookout. After a largely uneventful day of excellent sailing, we cleared that Cape at four in the morning on Tuesday.

Soon after that, we sailed in to the Gulf Stream. This worked very well for us, and we used that current to make better than anticipated time around Cape Hatteras, which we rounded at 3:30. We had a mini celebration, complete with a small measure of single malt apiece. Bill, Bob, and I took a vote and made Matt an official Waffler, with all the rights and responsibilities of membership.

We eventually exited the Gulf Stream, not only the advantages of the current but of the nice temperature that those warm waters brought. And it got cold quick. But the current did its job, and moved our arrival to the mouth of the Chesapeake forward by one day.

Just word here about the evening watches. Our rule was two men in the cockpit at all times, both clipped in to a jack line. Each man stood a four hour watch, but the watches were staggered, so during a four hour watch, a person would see his watch partner switch to a new partner 2 hours into his watch.  This seemed to work out well.

Wednesday morning saw the winds begin to die down. We kept it going for as long as we could by removing the reefs from the sails, but after breakfast, we were forced to motor. They picked back up slightly in the afternoon, and we took advantage of that to run out the spinnaker,which worked out nicely for a time. A noteworthy item on that was that it was the first time on the whole trip that we were on a port tack. Matt and I also took a run out in the dinghy to get some pictures of the Black Dog while flying the spinnaker.

A big surprise for me today was the opportunity to speak very briefly with Andy Schell, of the Isbjorn. I know of Andy through his podcast "59 North". He bills it as a sailing podcast, and for a sailor, it's full of great information. But there are many human interest stories for the non sailor, and would be worth  a listen by anyone.

I had heard the Isbjorn hailed by another vessel, and thought it sounded a bit like Andy on the response. So in a bit we hailed the Isbjorn, and I got to speak to Andy himself, and also tell him how much I enjoy his podcast. It was a nice experience, and I hope to be able to meet him at the Annapolis Boat Show in the fall.

We passed over the bridge/tunnel at 4:03, and celebrated with scotch once again. From there, it was straight to our anchorage at Mobjack Bay. It was just after 8 when we dropped the anchor.

We have until Saturday to get to Cape Charles, so tomorrow we are going to attempt Tangier Island. It is about 50 nautical miles from where we are tonight, so we are going to try to get an early start tomorrow, but we think it looks interesting enough.  I guess we will see.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Down to the Wire

We had a slow start this morning after a late night last night. But once we got moving, it was a productive day.

Bill spent a good three hours cooking meals to be reheated on the boat for lunches and dinners, while Bob and Matt did some last minute work on the boat. Ronda and I picked up the remaining stores, and some missed ingredients for Bill, and I spent the remaining afternoon assisting Bill as needed, and getting contact info for the Delorme InReach season that we could send status messages to our families. Additionally, Bob's dad, Clive, will send us weather updates via the InReach.

We all had a light dinner at The Lot, and Ronda dropped is at the boat. We quickly got everything taken on board, and will settle in for an early night.

The weather report is currently not what we would have it be, and we may need to pull into Wilmington NC to ride out some bad conditions and unfavorable winds, as opposed to sailing straight through to the Chesapeake, but we will make that decision at the appropriate time.  For now, 9 AM will see the tide go out, and us with it.

Preparing for Cape Charles

Action Figure Bill and I flew down to Savannah today, where we are picked up by Matt. We all headed to Charleston to meet up with Bob.  Bill cooked am impromptu dinner (awesome job on the kale chips). Bob and I reviewed the charts after which we headed to the Gin Joint for our traditional pre voyage Gin. We brought or charts,  and we reviewed the plan as a group. We were also sporting or new Black Dog the shirts, provided by Matt and Donna.

Tomorrow we will continue to prep, and are targeting an early Sunday departure.

Also new is the Black Dog podcast (http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:203957249/sounds.rss). Look is up on iTunes as Voyages of the Black Dog.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Overnight at Skull Creek Island

I love overnighting at Skull Creek Island. It just has a Pirate ring to it.

We were all up early this morning because we were invaded by the dreaded no-see-ums overnight. No-see-ums are these insidious little bugs which are very tiny and seem to be able to sneak through bug screens. By the time we knew what happened, we had been eaten alive by these things. Bill and Bob moved up to the cockpit where it was cooler in hopes that it might be better, Jay and Matt rode it out below. No one got a lot of sleep and when daylight broke we were up and getting underway.

We had a lazy motor up the ICW. We saw some very scenic towns from the boat, and another bald eagle as well.

Matt ran out of cigars, and we did a touch and go in Thunderbolt, GA to put him ashore to go looking. After striking out there, we took Matt back aboard. Some calls were made to other marinas, but no luck. Finally, Matt hit paydirt in Habourtown in Hilton Head.

After that it was short hop to our anchorage at Skull Creek Island. Bill cooked a stir fry dinner, and we whiled away the twilight hours in the cockpit, enjoying some tobacco, having drinks, and planning future sails on the Black Dog.

Tomorrow morning will see us back in Beaufort, and we leave the Black Dog with memories and experiences from our latest voyage.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

To Sunbury

It has been a day of adventure for us.

It started early. Bill made a pancake breakfast, and soon after we bid farewell to our new friends, Myron and Dana, and their vessel, the Hold Fast. We wish them safe passage, and hope our journies intersect again.

We were underway by nine thirty, and heading up the ICW. We stayed in, since the winds were not favorable for sailing, but we found adventure in other ways.

As we motored north toward Sunbury, Bob and Jay launched the dinghy, and went ashore on St Catherine's Island, to examine the local fauna. Landings were made in two separate locations and shells were collected. Then Bill and Jay switched spots in the dinghy, and Bob and Bill explored a side estuary off the ICW in search of gators. After a fruitless search, they returned to the Black Dog, and we continued to Sunbury in earnest.

One exciting moment in our transit was the sighting of a bald eagle, always a majestic sight.

We tied up at the Sunbury Crab Company (http://www.sunburycrabco.com) at five-thirty in the evening. Barny, Elaine, and their staff have gone out of their way to make sure our stay was perfect. They have very cool decor that had a very casual feel to it, the whole place has a very welcoming feel. We were very happy to use the shower they provide for boaters, washing away alternating layers of bug spray and sun block. We topped off the evening with a fabulous meal and live music. The meal was top shelf, and the key lime pie cheese cake was the perfect finish.

Sadly, we need to set out early tomorrow morning, because Sunbury seems to have some interesting history to it, and is one of Georgia's most famous lost towns (http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/sunbury1.html) . It would be interesting to be able to walk around a bit, but the time is not there. Perhaps on another voyage.