Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 4   Sunday, April 23, 2017 -  21.6 miles, 3.0 hours travel  ... Deep Creek Basin, Millville, VA to Sunset Boating Center, Hampton, VA

Daily life on board a boat involves an entirely new set of decisions ... like where to go today and where will we spend the night. Lots of rain is heading to the east coast for a couple of days. All our boating friends are talking about where they are holing up until it passes. When everyone talks about holing up some place and no one is planning on moving anywhere ... you know there is a good storm coming. This morning, we were in a safe, protected anchorage but getting the dog to shore in heavy rains in the dinghy wouldn't be fun. We wanted to get to Hampton, VA to a marina friends have raved about. However, the winds might make it an uncomfortable ride. So, decision time? Do we stay and be miserable for 2 days or head out and see how the wind and waves treat us; knowing we could retreat and go to Norfolk if it is bad? Staying in Norfolk would be a lot more expensive. The Captain decided to go. And a good decision it was for us all. The wind wasn't bad, the ride wasn't clam, but easy enough.  We crossed the river further west, toward Hampton Flats (north side of Hampton Bar ) and through the 10' easterly channel to Hampton River.  We did this to stay in the lee of the Hampton side rather than going near Hampton Roads Inlet to use the main entrance channel to the Hampton River.

Travel today took us through several rail road bridges. Usually they are up and out of our way, unless a train is actually passing through. There are A LOT of trains in Norfolk. We had to wait for an opening at one of them. 

Open railroad bridge, we can pass right thru
The middle section lowers for a train to pass

The Elizabeth River through Norfolk is very industrial. You pass many container ships off loading, but also many U.S. Navy ships. Some appear to be under construction, some I guess are in for extensive repairs and others are docked and staffed. One "Warship" left their slip as we approached. They announced on VHF their intentions and "TO STAY CLEAR OF MY VESSEL". We did. No pictures thru this area, pretty much frowned upon to take pics of the navy ships. Each area of ships was patrolled by a boat with guns, though some have floating barricades. We didn't want to be stopped, so no pics.

Only a short 3 hour run today to a quiet marina, Sunset Boating Center, where Cally can use her ramp to get on and off the boat with a pretty neighborhood to walk. There is only one small patch of grass within the marina. Older Victorian homes and sidewalks line the streets making for a nice walk. All in all quite a cute neighborhood around the marina. we are in a protected cove with friendly staff, too.

Sunset Boating Center

Docks at Sunset Boating Center, Hampton VA
Lab Partners is hidden by 4 other boats

Old Victorian homes line the streets from the docks

Cally, the tourist

Then, there is cooking on a boat ... which includes game time. I play "where is it" quite often. Where is the "almond flour or the Gazebo Dressing? You get the idea. This boat has a lot of storage space. But, remembering where it all is, well that is taking some time. So far, I have found most everything, it just takes longer on a boat than opening the pantry door at home. Most of the food storage is under the salon settee. Accessing the storage is from above, under the cushion via our added hatch, or from the sliding doors at the front of the settee. Things are mostly organized in baskets by food group or type: baking, can goods, etc.

Food storage access from the front of the settee (couch)
Food too far back for my arms to reach
is accessed from the top side, under the cushion

Cooking itself is space challenged, but working well. Especially for the first days aboard full time, we planned meals with little hassle to prep and cook. I will get bolder as the days click off.

The basic Galley (kitchen) space I use; not like at home. Morning bacon & eggs!!
The dark vertical board is a bamboo cutting board Rip made for me. I comes down over the two burner cook-top
to give me a full depth flat surface to work when not cooking.

Day 5   Monday, April 24, 2017 - 0 miles travel ... Sunset Boating Center, Hampton, VA

Supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow; so staying put today & tomorrow. One of our favorite updates/upgrades/improvements Rip made for the boat, is a sun shade awing for each side of the boat. With fore thought and planning, Rip also designed the awning to work a cover from the rain. Especially useful today; provides a space for Cally to go to and get dried off before entering the boat. Wet dog on a boat is not ideal. 

Cally coming into the "tented" area from a walk to get dried off
Here. she was shaking off some wetness, so fuzzy Cally
Day 6   Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 0 miles travel ... Sunset Boating Center, Hampton, VA

Rain, fog & clouds cleared around 10:30 am. Hope to get on the move north tomorrow.

Day 7      Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 46.5 miles travel ... Dozziers Regatta Point Marina, Deltaville, VA

Very cloudy, even cold today. Easy cruise out Hampton River into The Chesapeake Bay. Skys were to clear around 1pm. 

Overcast and chilly across the entrance to Mobjack Bay

Skys brighten for a bit as we approach the entrance to the Rappahannock River

We saw sunshine for a bit, then clouds rolled right back over us. We stopped for the day at a favorite spot of a lot of cruisers, Dozziers Regatta Point Marina in Deltaville. VA. We have been here twice before; once by boat and once by car when attending a Monk Owners Association rendezvous. Really nice facility plus the nicest, happiest people work here. 

Dozziers Regatta Point Marina, Deltaville, VA

It has been one week living on the boat full time. We are starting to get a groove on how things work, what needs to be done, etc.  It also means time for laundry. Yep, things like laundry still need to be done. We really don't need to do laundry, yet; but the facilities are nice and it makes the chore easier. The laundry is right by the pool. I will wait until tomorrow to do laundry ... maybe hang by the pool until it is all done? Sound like a plan?

Day 8     Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 0 miles traveled ... Dozziers Regatta Point Marina

Beautiful day today! Bright sunny sky's and a wonderful breeze. Laundry was done early this morning. Only one load, yay. 

Bath House and Laundry ... right by the pool
too cool today to jump in.
Clean laundry facilities ... not my mess on the counter top, either
I prepped breakfast for tomorrow cooking bacon in advance and making hard boiled (steamed?) eggs in my Instant Pot. LOVE the Instant Pot (IP). Wow, eggs come out perfect every time and so easy to peel. Anyway, with breakfast done, leaving in the am is quicker with less hassle.

IP at work in the galley

Rip is busy plotting our route to the next stop, Calvert Marina in Solomons, MD. We know where we are going, but with way points plotted out we can keep up with our ETA at the marina. For Cally's sake, we don't' like to cruise too long on any given day. Currently she is not boat trained, but maybe  some day in the future. 

Cally on patrol

Cally is busy ... being a busy-body. She is SO nosy.

Lab Partners

Saturday, April 22, 2017

And, so it begins

Day 1   Thursday, April 20, 2017 -  53.48 miles, 8.0 hours travel
Campbell Creek to Tuckahoe Point on the Alligator River, NC

After five years of dreaming and planning ... we (Cally, Rip and I)  have started the trip of a lifetime. I call day 1 a success.  We spent the prior night on the boat at the home dock, just to make things easier for leaving this morning.
Morning coffee before we start ... the white AGLCA burgee ready to fly
America's Great Loop Cruisers Association flag showing we are in the process of "Looping"
We left our home dock earlier than I thought we could or would and easily cruised out Campbell Creek, out Goose Creek, across the Pamlico River, up the Pungo River and through the Alligator-Pungo Canal to an anchorage at Tuckahoe Point on the Alligator River.
Leaving our home port; thanks for the pic Mel & MJ
We have been to this anchorage once before, with friends Dick and Cathy Harville, on board. There is a boat ramp and finger pier to take the dinghy for Cally to go ashore. The canal back to the ramp is long,  and a bit creepy, yet nice. I always think I am going to hear Dueling Banjos, think Deliverance, playing somewhere off on the shore.
Hard to see, but there are a series of white PVC pipes marking under water stumps
we hit twice on ones not marked on our 2 runs in & out
We were serenaded by 4 fighter jets overhead for an hour after dark. You could only see their lights as they whizzed by us. Guess they were on training flights out of Cherry Point. First night's sleep on the boat came early and was wonderfully uneventful. One of the upgrades to the boat was a new memory foam mattress. Huge comfort improvement over the expensive custom mattress a prior owner had installed.
Cally did great! She really loves the dinghy rides with the wind blowing her ears.

Day 2    Friday, April 21, 2017 -  57.85 miles, 7 hours travel
Tuckahoe Point on the Alligator River to Coinjock Marina, NC

Nice cruise this morning; down the Alligator River and across the Albemarle Sound. After an uneventful crossing of the Sound, Cally was doing great and not fussy about the time, we pushed past our planned stop up the North River and on to Coinjock Marina.
Boats on the face dock and restaurant on the other side; quite convenient
Cally's ramp for getting on and off the boat

Known for their Prime rib, we thought we should make this our stop for the day. FYI - Coinjock should also be known for their homemade potato chips! They were really good. Rip and I got Prime rib and Cally had lots of grassy areas to walk and do her business; plus attention from all the other boat owners on the dock and some of the staff, too. Folks at Coinjock Marina are very nice and super accommodating. Their reputation preceded them, by way of Active Captain reviews, and they did not disappoint. Great dock hands to help boat tie up. Nice bath facilities. The dinner was very good, plus the restaurant had a couple playing playing and singing music until 9 pm. They were good and a fun time was had by all.
A little celebratory bubbly to go with our Prime Rib
We do not like glass on the boat ... so, DuraClear Champagne flutes for us
Concert by the docks!!
Day 3   Saturday, April 22, 2017   -  43.1 miles, 6.0 hours travel
Coinjock Marina, Coinjock, NC to Deep Creek Basin, Great Bridge, Va.

Today took us North on what is called "the Virginia Cut" towards Great Bridge, VA. A route we had not taken previously, but our usual route, the Dismal Swamp Canal, is still closed from damage by Hurricane Matthew. This was a very scenic route. We had a flotilla of 6 boats thru 2 bridge openings and our first lock of The Great Loop. All in all a good day.
The view today; one of the bridges we easily fit under ... 65' clearance underneath

The end of the Albemarle Sound heading into the North River up to Coinjock
That said, there was a mistake on my part when planning for the first bridge opening. I read it opened on the hour and half hour M-F, basic daylight hours. On demand all other times. Rip called the bridge tender ask him to hold an opening as we wouldn't be to the bridge until slightly after the hour and with a large group behind us. He came back with, "On Demand". Yep, today is Saturday and I had no clue. Thought it was Friday. So, the bridge opened on demand once we got close enough. Lesson learned. I need to keep up with the days of the week, not just the date.
We are anchored at Deep Creek Basin tonight; a small anchorage with deep water and sandy beach on all sides for Cally to go ashore. The roar of I-64 can be heard; heck I can see the traffic on the highway from our anchorage. I doubt it will stop any sleep tonight. Since shore is so close by, I used the SUP to take Cally to shore. Rip outfitted the SUP with an attachable seat back; so it really works as a flat kayak. Cally with her leg issues sits weird and off to one side, never straight, so standing to SUP is hard. Seemed to work well. No one fell off. Now it is raining and getting cold ... so the SUP goes up and the dinghy comes down. Way too wet and cold to SUP to shore now. Humm ... lightening and thunder ... someone might have to wait until morning to go back to shore. Cally really doesn't like to go out in the rain at home, betting she will not like going out in the rain off the boat either. stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We have the Green Light to start the Loop

I don't usually "post" but friends and family have been asking for the past 2-3 weeks "when are you leaving on the Loop?".  Until yesterday, we couldn't really think about setting a date.  We were in that limbo hell of waiting on medical results.  On Friday afternoon of March 17 Beth found out she would need a biopsy, the following week came the surgical consult, the week after a core needle biopsy, then the added agony of waiting... yesterday morning we finally got the results.  Benign!  Relief!  Smiles!  Some decent sleep!
Still haven't set a date, likely to be during the last 10 days of April.  Watch out fellow Loopers - - here comes Cally!