Saturday, September 24, 2016

Homeward Bound - Sept 16, 2016 - Sept 24, 2016

On Thurs Sept 16, 2016 we moved from Top Rack back to the south harbor in Norfolk, where we can tie up free to the town dock and where we were when we first came up this way.   Fri (9/16) we even ate at Lobscouser, where had dinner with the other boaters when we were first here.     This time we made it for the happy hour and Dave was able to get a nice scallop dinner for $8.99

The east wind from tropical depression Julia pushed water into the harbor and on high tide the town dock was below water.  The dock is fixed and we were tied to the dock pylons, which were high enough to keep our lines secure even when PhatCat rose about the level of the dock.

Saturday, Sept 17 we headed south down the Dismal Swamp and entered North Carolina from Virgina.
We stayed overnight at the visitor center just like we did coming up.   This time Di was able to hike into the woods and find the old moonshine still.

We added our name to the north lock wall as we entered the Dismal Swamp canal.

Canal Road in the Dismal Swamp, on route to the still

The Still.  From left to right as the process flowed:
The boiler, the Cooker, the Doubler/Thumper,  the Dry Barrel and finally the Condenser, which dispenses the final product - distilled spirits.

Farther up the road from the Still is a flat boat barge that was used extensively on the canal to transport products, such as cedar shingles to market.   The roof of of the hut covering the boat is made of shingles from white cedar, which used to be abundant in the swamp. 

The flat boat barges were known as lighter boats or shingle flats.   The canal was too narrow and shallow to handle larger vessels back in the day.   These flat boats were pulled by hand or mule along the canal.

While walking along the trail, Di saw a doe with 2 young deer, probably born this past spring 

Just yards north of the flat boat barge is Cross Canal.
Now impassable, it stretches 10 miles to the west and once was a major waterway connecting Gates county, NC to the Dismal Swamp canal back in 1822.

Dave relaxing at the visitor center.  Wifi was only available in the visitor center building itself.
The visitor center was closed on Sunday so we had to get all our Wifi access done on Saturday.

Looking back up (north) the canal from the visitor Center dock.

Sunday, Sept 18, we  made it to the Elizabeth city free town dock the next day.   A new bakery opened the week after we were here last so were looking forward to tasting its delicacies; but the place was closed on Sundays and Mondays, so never got the chance.

Tropical Depression Julia met us in Elizabeth City and it was rainy and windy. Sunday night we rocked and rolled against the town dock.  

After one of the rain showers Sunday Afternoon, a rainbow showed itself in Elizabeth City.

Monday morning (9/19) early (6:30 am), we took advantage of the temporary calm seas and wind to make our way further south to Dowry Creek marina.   Laundry facilities were free so we did a couple loads of laundry and Di attended the daily 5 PM happy hour (bring your own drink and a snack to share) they have.    The rain came in about 6 PM and lasted on and off all night.

Tuesday, we left early again, although a little more reasonable time (8 am) and traveled 1 hour south to the Mayo Seafood Dock in Hobucken, NC.   At $16 a night including 30 amp electricity and the ability to purchase free seafood, it was good stop over.    The old shrimp docks are on a well weather protected canal which connects the Pamilico and Bay Rivers.   T.D. Julia was still churning around the area with rain off and on during the day, so we stayed thru Thurs, Sept 22.   Di is not a fan of seafood, but Dave was able to get fresh shrimp for dinner one night and scallops another night.  He even bought a second package of frozen scallops for sometime in the future.

Friday morning we stopped at the River Dunes Resort.   It has rave reviews on Active Captain and other boaters we met who have stopped here were adamant that it is a must go to place.   The price is $1.90/ft so we only planned on staying 1 day, doing some grocery shopping using the courtesy car and giving the boat a good cleaning.

The River Dunes pool

The club house

River Dunes dock.  This is a well protected harbor.
You can just see PhatCat poking her bow out on the outside of the T-dock.

The club house as viewed from the pool


Some of the private houses at River Dunes.

Saturday afternoon we left the dock and anchored overnight in the harbor just off the docks.    Sunday we head to Beaufort, NC.   We are now about 2 weeks from home.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

B.O.A.T - brake out another thousand: Aug 25, 2016 - Sept 15, 2016

Thursday August 25, we left Annapolis for Herrington Harbor South where we had reserved a slip at the Herrington Harbor Resort for $2.25/ft.    A little expensive but the resort is nice with a pool, beach, workout room, laundry, showers and other amenities.
As we were docking, the engine cables for the starboard engine throttle broke so Dave was unable to maneuver forward or back using the starboard engine.   Luckily we were close enough to the dock to throw lines and have the dock hand pull us in.   We called Zimmerman Marina, which was nearby and works out of Herrington Harbor North.    For an "Emergency Fee" of $120, they could have a tech at the boat the next day, Friday.  Otherwise it would not be until Monday at the earliest.    Since the marina charges $3.25/ft Fridays through Saturday, it was cheaper to pay the ‘emergency fee’ than to wait until Monday, so we agreed to the emergency fee.   
That afternoon, the couple we showed off Phat Cat to drove down from Annapolis and took us to lunch at the Herrington Harbor restaurant as a thank you for giving them the boat tour the day before.   Because of the broken cable we could not take them for a ride to show them how the boat operated.
PhatCat at the Herrington Harbor slip

Dave took his 'girls' out for a walk Thursday evening.

The Zimmerman technician arrived on Friday and successfully installed a new cable in the starboard engine.  A few days earlier Dave had noticed exhaust soot in the port engine.   We both looked for the leak but could not find it so Dave asked the Zimmerman tech for his opinion.    Dave had planned to return to Washburn's boatyard to get it checked out and fixed, but it couldn't hurt to have this guy take a look too. Turns out we did have a hole in the turbo exhaust housing.

Although not part of the original work order, the tech did apply a temporary ‘patch’ to the hole so we could leave without worrying about the fumes.       
Friday afternoon August 26, after the cable was replaced and the turbo hole patched to the tune of $500, we left Herrington harbor and made our way back to Washburn’s Boatyard at Solomon’s Island.  Too bad we really weren’t able to enjoy the benefits of the resort although Dave did take a quick dip in the Olympic size pool Thursday night and Friday morning.   
Back at Washburn’s, Di noticed that someone tore down the old WWII brick building that used to store paint.   We had shown that building in a past blog post.  They even removed the historical placard describing it.   That was the last artifact from the WWII Amphibian Naval Base at Solomons Island.     Too bad we can’t keep some of the old while we move forward with the new. 

This is all that is left of the WWII brick building

On Sunday,  August 28, Condo Regency neighbors Jamie and Sarah McCurry stopped by for a visit on their way from a National Power Squadron meeting in Pittsburgh back to North Carolina.   Washburn's hadn't had a chance to look at the turbo housing yet, so we were able to take Jamie and Sarah on a little ride around the solomon's island creeks  and the Patuxent river.  They have never been here at Solomon's Island so we also took them on a car tour of the area.  As Sarah's birthday was the 24th and Di's birthday was the upcoming 2nd,  the 4 of us shared Sarah's chocolate birthday cake that the hotel had given her. 

On Wed, Sept 7th, Washburn's installed a new turbo housing in the port engine.  We took the boat out for a half-hour test run and it worked beautifully.   As before, dockage was free and they allowed us to stay a couple of extra days waiting for a good weather window.   Cost for the repair was $2500.
The neighborhood groundhog comes to visit at Washburn's.

Looper friends and SC neighbors, Andy and Julie Perry on their boat Fruitcakes, were heading down from their summer stay in Boston and stopped at Calvert Marina on Sat Sept 10th.     We haven't seen them since they left for Fort Myers, Fl back in October so it was great getting together again.

Wind and wave forecasts for Monday, Sept 12 were favorable.   Andy and Julie wanted to make Deltaville that afternoon so they headed out early (7am).    We called them before our planned leave time of 10 am and found that the forecasts were WRONG.   Fruitcakes encountered rough seas and high winds most of the trip.   We decided to postpone leaving until noon, giving the bay time to settle down.

Point No Point Light near the mouth of the Potomac after the bay calmed down

We arrived in Deltaville around 4 PM and anchored off of the docks at Norview Marina, where Andy and Julie were docked.    In the slip next to Fruitcakes was "Red Head",  ActiveCaptain founders and operators, Jeff and Karen Siegel's newly purchased trawler type yacht.

Cruising Canines Dylan and Dee-Dee with mother Karen.
The Siegel's are full time cruisers and their travel blog, from the view point of the dogs, is called "Takingpaws"
Andy and Julie will be leaving their boat in Deltaville for several weeks.   Monday evening we all had a wonderful dinner on Fruitcakes and Julie gave us some of their perishable food..  

Phat Cat left Deltaville Tuesday morning, Sept 13 and headed to Norfolk to anchor near the Tidewater Marina.

As we entered Norfolk, an Osprey helicopter flew over.

Portsmouth as viewed from our anchorage

Tidewater Marina with Portsmouth in the background

Cassie happy to be outside

The weather had finally cooled down so we were able to open all the windows and have a cool night for sleeping.

Wednesday, Sept 14th we moved from the anchorage to TopRack Marina, where fuel was the cheapest around.   Wednesday was also supposed to be back into the 90s so for the cost of a dinner at the TopRack restaurant, we got free dockage and power. A very nice deal.

Tropical Depression Julie is churning up the waters south of here so we will be hanging around Portsmouth/Norfolk until the Albermarie sound settles down.   Once that happens, we will travel back down the Dismal Canal to Elizabeth City.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Annapolis on the way home: Aug 21, 2016 - Aug 24, 2016

On Sunday, August 21st, our 'month" was up at Anchorage Marina so we bade goodbye to our new friends and headed out.   It had been cloudy all day, raining off and on.  We didn't get around to leaving until 4 PM so decided to just anchor off the marina in the harbor.

The objects/bumps in the water are not birds, but garbage.
Plastic bottles, paper cups and other debris which wash down into the harbor for the street sewer drains.

Canada had it weed harvester.  Baltimore has a garbage harvester.

The harvester goes around the picking up the garbage.  It is a neverending job.

Monday, Aug 22 we traveled about 1 hour and anchored for the night in a bay near the Maryland Yacht Club and the White Rock Marina on the Patapsco River.  Dave took the dinghy in to check out the 2 places and learned that the Maryland Yacht club facilities were once part of an amusement park.  The old carousel building is just used for storage now.    
Dave also went swimming as we noticed an absence of jelly fish.   I guess it was too hot even for them!   since we were anchored, we left the kitties out to roam the boat.

Cassie enjoying being outside on the seat in the cockpit.
Tuesday, August 23 we traveled about 2 hours and anchored in the Magothy River behind a small private island  called Gibson's Iland

House with attached lighthouse on the Magothy River.

We pulled into Annaopis Wed, Aug 24 and took a town mooring.
Passing under the Annapolis Bay Bridge

Phat Cat on the Annapolis town mooring.

We took the dinghy into town and tied up on the free town dock near the Naval Academy.    After lunch at a unique fast food crepe place called Sofie's Crepes,we took a guided tour of the Annapolis Naval Academy.

Indoor Soccer field at the academy

While the ability to swim is not a requirement to attend the academy,
every midshipman knows how to swim before graduating.
Lounge area of Dahlgren Hall,  designed by architect Ernest Flagg in 1989 and built in 1903.
Named for Rear Admiral John Archer Dahlgren who invented a scientifically designed, large-caliber naval gun..

More Dahlgren Hall 

Monument for the Centennial of the US Submarine Force

The academy's dorm - Bancroft Hall.   The largest single dormitory in the world.
Home to 4000 midshipman with 5 miles of corridors and 33 acres of floor space.

View from the steps of Bancroft Hall

Typical dorm room in Bancroft Hall

Entrance to office suite for Commandant of the midshipman.

Stairwell to Memorial Hall.
Painting of the USS Frigate Constellation (which Di toured in Baltimore) in Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall contains the honor roll of all academy graduates who have received the medal of honor.
It includes scrolls and plaques that commemorate academy alumni and navel personnel lost in battle.

View of the back of Bancroft hall and grounds from the balcony of Memorial Hall (which had netting all around it)..

Memorial Hall
Some of the distingished alumni.  Far left is President Jimmy Carter.
Herndon Monument.  The 21 foot tall obselisk where the "plebes no more ceremony" takes place.  First year midshipmen are promoted to midshipmen 2nd class.
They put a midshipman cap on top and tape it down, then smear the entire obselisk with grease.
The plebes have to get the plebe cap and replace it with a "combination cover" while upper classman use garden hoses to thrawt their efforts

The church at the Naval Academy

Under the church is the crypt of John Paul Jones.
The museum at the academy contains the most ship models anywhere.
USS Frigate Constitution.   The original "old Ironsides"

A ship model made of animal bones.
Constructed by French prisoners of war held in British prisons and ships uring the Napoleonic Wars
After we got back to the boat, a couple came up alongside in a small boston whaler boat.  They had seen Phat Cat on the mooring and were interested in a lagoon power catamaran.  They asked it we would mind giving them a tour of the boat; so we did.