SouthBound Trip

SouthBound Trip
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Trip's Log

Date: Oct 31 to Nov 20

Total Distance: 983 nms
Destination: Deltaville, Md; Atlantic Yacht Basin, Va; Deep Creek, Cedar Creek, Mile Hammock Bay,  Dutchman Creek, NC; BullCreek, Swinton Creek, Beaufort, Cattle Pan Creek, Jackson Creek, SC; St Augustine, Melbourne, FL
Route: Chesapeake Bay, ICW, Pamlico Sound, Albermarle Sound, Sapelo Sound

Oct 31 We bid Solomons Island goodbye on Halloween. It was a gorgeous Indian summer day, temperatures in the 50s, then rising to mid 60s, real calm seas, light wind with waves of 1 foot.  We got to Deltaville at 14:30 and anchored there for the long night ahead.  We realized that in order to get a good anchorage (and this was quite a lovely one), you have to beat the sail boaters to it by getting there early. They are usually anchored by 14:00! We broke the record by going to bed before 20:00! 


Sunrise at Solomons


Thimble Shoal Lighthouse(?)

Nov 1 Another beautiful day for cruising except that the fog rolled in about 8:30. We got our portable fog horn ready, listened intensely to the radio all the while inching along painfully at 6 knots. This went on for 4 long arduous hours, landing us at Thimble Shoals/Hampton Roads around noon.  We knew how busy this harbor gets with container ships, war ships, submarines, ferries, etc. Visibility was barely 50 yards away, so we were going to wait for the fog to lift before continuing. Miraculously, the sun burned through and the fog cleared as we approached the entrance to the harbor!  Gradually, boats and markers unveiled before our eyes. What a lovely sight! Then activities started to pick up.

Powerboats, fishing boats, sailboats, tugboats all seemed to speed up and about a dozen boats found themselves (us included) waiting for a bridge opening, one after another.  There were a total of 3 bridges before the Dismal Swamp Canal, where we had intended to go.  Our plan was to anchor before the locks at Deep Creek since we were too late for the 15:30 opening.  As we turned into the Dismal Swamp Canal, we got stuck on 2-3 feet of water.  Our port (left) side propeller caught on something.  Plans change as quickly as they were made.  We turned around and headed back to Atlantic Yacht Basin, where we had stayed for 2 1/2 months previously, to have them take a look at it.  

Also, this is the other route, going through Great Bridge locks, to the Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW).  However, we have yet to go through another bridge (Steel Bridge) and were told that it would not open until 18:00!  Here, we had just missed the 16:00 opening. What to do? We dropped the anchor and waited... Luck seemed to be with us again.  A Boat US towboat towing a sailboat appeared. Over the radio, we heard that the bridge operator was going to let them through.  We quickly raised our anchor and limped along with them.  After the locks, we tied up to the free docks after the locks and stayed there for the night. 

Nov 2 We caught the first bridge opening at 7am and went into AYB.  This place is a zoo with the snowbirds migrating South and some awaiting the direction of Hurricane Michelle, currently hovering around Cuba.

Nov 3 Our boat was hauled out.  The propeller had caught a crab pot, but not damaged, thank goodness.  However, the crab pot did scratch away some gelcoat on the hull of the boat.  So, it looks like we will be here for a few more days, as we will get the boat bottom painted as well, which we had intended to do when we get to Florida.  So much for planning... However, not all is bad. Here, we met Ron and Jean, a real nice couple from Michigan who had been living aboard for a few years, and are now selling their boat to move back to land for a while. We had some interesting discussions touching on all kinds of topics. Also, we installed a navigation software (Captain Voyager), and with Ron's help, got it linked to the autopilot and the GPS. 


Caught a crabpot

Nov 7  Back on the water. We left early the next morning, stopping for fuel at Coinjock ($1/gal). We took advantage of the nice weather and ran past Albermarle Sound into Alligator River to anchor at Deep Creek (SM 112).

Nov 9 Took off at first light. Temperature this morning was a little nippy at 50 degrees. Half hour down Alligator River, we met a barge head on. It gets tricky navigating the narrow river and passing some sailboats, 4 of them in a row, mind you. While on this river, we tested Mai Thai's engines by running on different rpms, and dutifully recording the speed. When we got to the Pungo River, we kicked up the throttle and flew (compared to the sailboats) at 14 knots. After passing Bellhaven ( the markers change over here, red will now be on your left), we almost ran aground in 4' of water into a bunch of crab pots. Thanks to the Eileen, we got back on course (No, she's not the kind of boater who's just making sandwiches). We went in to Oriental around 13:30. Eight boats were already anchored there, so we wandered under a bridge, but decided it was too shallow - about 3.5 to 4' of water and again lots of crab pots. Having caught one recently, these things really bother us. We left. Ten nautical miles away, we dropped the hook at a secluded cove called Cedar Creek (SM 187), close to land, and with 2 boats moored in front of some nice homes. Later in the evening, 2 more sailboats anchored out near the markers.

Nov 10 We awoke to a cold morning (around 38 degrees F) with such heavy mist that you could barely see land. The surrounding boats went in and out of our view as the sun tried to fiercely burn off the fog. Thinking it will clear soon, we raised our anchor when in a matter of seconds, we could see nothing except for the contour of the boat moored closest to us. All of a sudden, it became maddeningly silent. It felt almost mysterious, and everything came to a halt. The sound of a dog barking broke the silence. Then birds started squeaking, and we heard a faint sound of a car passing by. The 2 sailboats near the markers sounded their foghorn every few minutes.  


Fog at Cedar Creek anchorage

When it finally cleared up about a half hour later, we left and fueled up at nearby Jarrett Bay, NC (even cheaper than Coinjock at .94/gal). For the night, we anchored at Mile Hammock Bay near Camp LeJeune with 14 other boats, and about half of them Canadian. We were the only oddball powerboat there. The holding ground was said to be "notoriously poor" , and with a 10-15 knots wind from the SW, we did not encounter any problems, fortunately. At night, the sky was lit with stars, and they were so low you could almost reach out and grab them.

Nov 11-13 A parade of sailboats started to leave around 07:00. We followed suit, being the fourth in line. Half hour into our passage, boats in front of us started to turn around. What's going on, we wondered? Ay yay yay, the captain of the first boat had led us down the wrong path! It created one big mess as there were seven boats behind us as well. As we turned around, playful dolphins jumped up and about, creating more confusion as we all slowed down to watch while trying avoid a collision. 

The next several days found us anchoring at Dutchman Creek (SM 310), BullCreek, SC (SM 381.5), and Swinton Creek (SM 460).

Nov 14-16 After six days of anchoring, we finally checked into Downtown Marina, Beaufort, SC to fuel up and to provision. We were looking to venture out to the Atlantic side to make time, but weather did not permit it. Hurricane Michelle was blowing in Southern Florida, and 10 to 20 foot seas were forecasted. We'll stay in the ICW, thank you very much. The next several days, we anchored at Cattle Pan Creek (SM 625), Jackson Creek (SM 707). We were now in Georgia. Sapelo Sound was quite rough, but the sun came out after being in hibernation for 2 days. We fueled up at Jekyll Harbor Marina. Quite a current going through there. 


Teddy and Eldora of Zebulun


Thanksgiving at Seabreeze, Vero Beach

Nov 17-19 We have now entered Florida waters and our first anchorage was at St Augustine. It was a sunny 70 degrees, blustery wind and strong currents, and there were tons of boats anchored here. The next morning found temperatures of 57 degrees, but by noon, the mercury had already climbed to 90! Florida IS the sunshine state. After passing the Matanza Inlet, we saw several sailboats anchored near a bridge. And wouldn't you believe it - there was Zebulun (the 47' Catalina we sailed on back in October) waiting for the tide to go down so as to clear their 65' vertical clearance.  We hooked up with them, and got together for cocktails. The next day, we cruised together, and anchored one more night near Melbourne. Zebulun invited us and other landlubber friends for a delicious boiled dinner on their boat. We won't go into details about the heated discussion we had about religion, especially after the few cocktails we all had ...

Nov 20 Zebulun and we parted ways at Vero Beach Municipal Marina. We made it to Seabreeze, where Peggy's side of the family prepared a yummy southern Thanksgiving dinner for the holiday. Don and Terry of Mine all Mine were in the vicinity, and the Hanshus invited them over for Thanksgiving dinner as well.

We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line - Eileen or Sophal
Last updated: 04/12/2007
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