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June 09, 2006

To the Chesapeake again

We left Ocracoke Tuesday morning the 23rd of May intending to go north to Manteo but the wind did not cooperate and we changed direction and went west back to the normal ICW route and spent the night at Campbell Creek where we have anchored before. The next day we crossed the Pamlico River and went through the canal to the Alligator River. We were able to sail a good part of the way with nice winds. The next day we crossed the Albemarle Sound in light air and were inundated with black flies! When we got to Coinjock, the people at the marina said all the boats coming through had the same experience with the flies so we were not the only ones. When we cleaned out the cockpit sole, there were hundreds of dead flies in it! After getting fuel, milk and OJ at Coinjock, we continued north to the Great Bridge Lock where there is a free dock while you wait for the lock opening. We spent two nights and a day there since it is a short walk to the town and the grocery store, Chinese Restaurant, drug store, etc. Once we cleared the lock on the 28th, we were in Portsmouth anchored at ICW mile marker zero in just two hours.
Along the way, we saw another cruising Island Packet sailboat named Patty Ann and it turned out to be the same boat we chartered 10 years ago in Palmetto, Florida (Tampa area) over the Christmas New years period for a 10 day cruise down to Key West and back! Small world, ain’t it? The owners had just completed a trip around the Caribbean and were taking the boat to Deltaville, VA to put it on the market.
We stayed in the Portsmouth/Norfolk area for 3 days and took a walking tour of Norfolk and went to the nearby mall where we did some shopping and ate lunch at the local Johnny Rockets – hamburgers of course with a milk shake!
From Norfolk, we went up the Chesapeake to Fishing Bay near Deltaville. After getting the anchor down, I checked our e-mails only to find that our cruising friends, the Keens, were back in town and invited us to come and visit them on Wilton Creek which is just several miles from Fishing Bay. We called them on the cell phone and moved to their dock the next day. Christine had two dozen steamed fresh crabs from their crab trap and we picked them and she made the most wonderful crab cakes for dinner along with corn on the cob and tomatoes. Yum!
They also organized a cocktail party on the dock before dinner with neighbors and another visiting cruising powerboat, which was also fun.
We have always wanted to explore the Rappahannock River so the next day we left the Keens and went around the corner to Urbana, VA and anchored. Urbana is one of a dozen towns authorized to be built/settled by the Virginia Assembly some 300 years ago and has many old historic buildings and is an interesting place to visit. The public library provides free Wi Fi Internet access so we got caught up on Internet stuff that is better to do with a high-speed connection. We had lunch at the local seafood place Shuckers and I got a soft shell crab sandwich so I’ve had a good fill of crabs lately. I also bought a supply of chicken necks and backs so I can now start catching my own crabs! All this kept us in Urbana another day, and yesterday we crossed the Rappahannock to the Yankee Point marina which was recommended by the Keens as a good, inexpensive place to have work done and store the boat should we decide to do something rash like take six months for a trip to New Zealand and Australia. I found that it only takes 75,000 frequent flier miles on American Airlines for each ticket and I have over 250,000 miles in my account. We talked to other boaters this winter who had done the trip and they got camper vans or RV’s in both countries and did a self directed tour and visit. New Zealand has always been the #1 place I have wanted to go and maybe this is the year for it. Time will tell.
We met another cruising couple here at the Yankee Point marina who did the “Great Loop” trip around the eastern US on their trawler a year ago. The loop typically goes up the Hudson River and through either the Erie or Lake Champlain Canal system to Canada, through the Great Lakes, down the canal from Chicago to the Mississippi, up the Ohio River to Paducah, KY, and then down the Tenn/Tom waterway to Mobile Alabama and then down the west coast of Florida and back up the east coat. They came aboard for happy hour last night and told us about their trip. All the cruisers we have met that have done the loop have nothing but good things to say about it and it would be fun to do. For Omega, it means taking the mast down and acting like a trawler for the part from the Hudson to Mobile because of low bridges but it would work OK and many sailboats have done it before.
Our immediate no plan plan is to move north on the Chesapeake towards Annapolis over the next few days, and after that who knows!

Posted by Dick at 08:01 PM