Saturday, November 14, 2009

October 25 - 31

Have made the decision to start heading south. Our friends on Brilliant will pick up the mail for us and forward it to Hampton. Chilly start to the day with winds in the 15-20 knot range with gusts to 25. Motorsailed for a while and then able to turn the engine off and sail. Made it to the Solomon Island area about 47 nautical miles. We anchor in Old House Creek in very still waters. Our friends on Lucky Bird arrived later and came over to Equinox for sundowners. We are in the cabin with the heater on to warm all of us. The next day we are up early and plan to be underway at first light. Plan to head to Deltaville, VA and sail with a reefed sail in winds around 20 -22 knots. Fight current for a while, but still average 6.5 knots covering almost 60 nautical miles. We see pelicans for the first time and checked our log from the last trip and find that we saw them around the same place last time. The entrance to Deltaville doesn’t seem to be as bad as we remembered it to be and don’t run aground this time in, but see depths that drop to 6.5 feet. Dick is nervous about our anchor spot and checks several times during the night to make sure we aren’t near a trawler that is anchored nearby. Rainy and chilly as we start out to go from Deltaville to Hampton the next day. Full foul weather gear on for the day. Downwind sail with only the jib out. Used our new autopilot for most of the day, but at one point went off course and we aren’t sure why. Had to shut off the breaker and start it up again. Another project for the ever increasing list!!!

We stay in Hampton from Tues to Friday – longer than we had anticipated, but necessary because of weather and projects. Hampton is a great stopping place and the harbormaster goes out of his way to make sure that you are happy. We have several packages waiting for us, including our mail. It amazes me how much junk mail we are still getting and it takes a while to whittle the pile down to mail that is really important. The Caribbean 1500 leaves from Hampton and we have the opportunity to see our friends, Rick and Julie Palm. This is the 20th anniversary and they will be doing the rally in their boat, Altair. They are also involved in the rally organization itself, Rick is the Chief Boat Inspector, and both he and Julie are involved in some of the lectures and roundtable discussion. It was great seeing them and we wish them the best on their trip to Tortola. Our friends, Bob and Alice Smith, on Lucky Bird will also be a part of the rally.

Friends that we meet at the SSCA gam, Wendy and Dave, are on the dock next to us and we have dinner on board. They have a Westsail 42, a heavy comfortable cruising boat that they plan to eventually take into the Pacific. They are currently waiting for weather to head to Bermuda. The next day we rent a car to head to West Marine and to do some final provisioning. We bought so much stuff that we didn’t think it would all fit on the boat, but it is surprising how many little hiding spots there are.

In our walks and drives around Hampton, Dick has tried to find places that he remembered from his childhood. His paternal grandparents lived in Hampton and his grandfather taught at Hampton Institute, which is now Hampton University. Due to the expansion of the school, the house that his grandparent lived in had been torn down and it is difficult for Dick to get his bearing on the camps. As we walked through downtown Hampton we came across the 1st Baptist Church, which had been built in the 1700’s. We stopped in the church’s office and were given a history of the church to see if there was any information. His grandfather, Edgar (E.H.) Bentzel, was mentioned about 10 times. He was very active on a building committee, financial committee, and as a lecturer. There wasn’t any mention of his grandmother, though we thought we saw her in a couple of pictures. It was great to find some personal connection to a place.

Dick has been working on getting the pactor modem in place and has been terribly frustrated that he hasn’t been able to get it to work. (Moira is just as frustrated because the noise is driving her crazy!!! And it’s just not the noise that comes from the SSB radio – Dick has added a few words and noises of his own!) At this point he has been in touch with Gary at Dockside Radio and it looks like we need a few more parts and those will need to be shipped to Beaufort. Because he has been spending so much time working on that and with things torn apart Moira hasn’t yet had a chance to try out the new sewing machine. She has spent time watching the DVD about it – can’t believe there is so much to know before starting the machine up!

We leave on Friday to start down the ICW. We’re about 200 miles from Beaufort where we hope to leave for the Caribbean. We reach mile 0 of the ICW in Norfolk about 10 in the morning and decide to take the Virginia Cut this time. Last time we went down the Dismal Swamp and thought we would give this route a try. Dick had also been told about a 32oz prime rib in a restaurant in Coinjock that he would like to see about. We make it to the Great Bridge lock around 12:40 for the 1 o’clock bridge opening. Dick had been here in 2008 when he helped to bring Bob Johnson’s catamaran back to Maine. As we travel down the ICW we are passed by many huge powerboats that don’t slow down and leave us in huge wakes. Many of the boats are calling ahead to Coinjock to make it to the marina there. After being swamped by one more boat, Dick decides that he doesn’t want to go to that marina to sit in the restaurant with all the folks that have blown by us. We decide to anchor near Pungo Ferry and have to try in four different spots. There has been a lot of shoaling and all of the anchorages mentioned in the guides are too shallow for us. In the dark we decide to just anchor outside the channel. By 6:30 all is quiet and we are passed by only barge that night.

We get another early start the next morning hoping to get to Albermarle Sound before the wind really picks up. It’s Halloween and we definitely do not get a treat that day! We had a miserable crossing with winds coming up to 20 knots on the nose. The sound is famous for its short, steep waves and we got to experience them across the whole bay. It seemed like every 4th or 5th wave would completely stop us and we would have to wait for the engine to rev up again. There was no place to turn back to because the last anchorage was very exposed. We kept going, but arrived at the Alligator River Marina in the dark and exhausted. Typically, we don’t go into marinas, but we felt that we had earned this. Dick also had the dinner special of pork chops and collard greens – he said he didn’t miss the prime rib at all!

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