Monday, June 24, 2013



Springtime is always a busy time of year, even when one is not away for 225 days or 7 mons. + 2 days!  Immediate tasks included unpacking the car, unpacking clothes, unpacking the bins & 4 loads of laundry, reinstating my car insurance, purchasing some groceries & some annuals for starters.  When weather permitted the grass weeding was started, old scraggly shrubs cut down & stumps removed, shrub & perennials moved around, grass seed spread, planters filled with fresh soil & colourful annuals, the vegetable garden was rotatilled & prepared for planting & the large grass compost heap of grass & leaves was rotatilled.  On the many inclimate weather days of cool temps & rain even as we got closer to summer, the kitchen cupboards were washed & restocked, the floors were washed, the carpets vacuumed, the furniture dusted, closets & dresser drawers rearranged, windows & screens washed & the ongoing & monumental task of filing paper & invoices, gathering years & years of old utility bills, taxes, papers etc. for shredding, cleaning out & up & organizing the basement.  Then of course of great importance to me is fitness; fitting in my powerwalks, increasing distance & frequency of bike rides, joining a gym & attending a few sessions with a personal trainer & fitness classes, all in an attempt to shed some added adipose tissue, tighten lose & weak muscles & improve physical endurance, strength & aerobic stamina.  I guess you might say we are back into the rat race of modern North American life.  Though, on my walks & bike rides I do block out the sounds of city life & enjoy the sounds of birds, the smells of Spring, the greenness & peacefulness surrounding me & I think of those tranquil, peaceful, relaxed, simple, basic, uncomplicated, most spectacular, breathtaking views & times in the Bahamas!

                                                                   My Home Ottawa!


Week 33: May 15, 2013 (Day 225)

Week 33:

Wed. May 15, 2013—Day 225:
Destination:  Deltaville to Ottawa!
Weather:  sun & blue sky to increasing cloud closer to Ottawa, cool & increasing wind

A 0300 hrs. rise for me at least & a nice shower to wash away the morning cobwebs.  I had to wake Graeme near 0400 hrs.  The water tanks were completely drained, the blinds & curtains tightly closed & the fridge & freezer lid & toilet seat over left up.  We drove away at 0450 hrs & drove the 13 hour drive back to Ottawa, switching up every 2-1/2- 3 hrs.   No problems at the border & arrived at Mom’s at 1840 hrs. to a good supper with my aunt & uncle from PEI.  It felt good to be home!

Home Sweet Home!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Week 32: May 8- 14, 2014 (Day 218-224):

Week 32:

Wed. May 8, 2013— Day 218:
Destination:  Goat Island (Mile 43) to Waterside Marina, Norfolk (Mile 0)
Departure:  0600 hrs.                              Arrival:  1530 hrs.                                      Distance:  43 SM
Winds:  undeterminable in protected Dismal Swamp Canal, S in Norfolk
Weather:  mix of sun & cloud, then dark clouds & rain late afternoon, cool in am but pleasant in pm

Goat Island at Dawn
Along the Pasquotank River After Sunrise
Dismal Swamp Canal in the Spring

No surprises during the night; the clear skies & stars remained with us.  It was so picturesque with glass like clam water & a beautiful colour to the morning sky.  We carried a speed of 6K motoring along our 10.5 mi.  route to South Mills Lock for the 1st opening of the day at 0830 hrs.; we were 55 mins.  early.  Five northbound boats locked in at 0830 hrs. & locked out at 0905 hrs.  We had 3-1/2 hrs. to travel the 21.1 mi. distance past the NC Welcome Center to the Deep Creek Bridge (bascule) at 1330 hrs.  We slowed our boat speed a few times, taking in the pristine, scenic environment surrounding us; we saw 1 eagle, 5 brown turtles sunning on a log, ducks & birds of course & gently hit a couple of logs on the canal floor.  With 1 mile before the bridge & an hour remaining, the bridge tender/lock master hailed us & said he was opening the bridge for 3 southbound sailing boats he had locked through early & would allow any northbound boats to take advantage of the bridge opening if we desired, but we would have to wait for the regular schedule time of 1330 hrs. for the lock opening & could tie up at Elizabeth’s Dock, a 200 ft. wooden dock on the west bank with 8 ft. water depths just before the lock.  And so we did, then locked in at 1338 hrs. & locked out at 1405 hrs.  The lockmaster coached us with the info that with <30 min. remaining we would have to maintain a minimum of 6K to make the Gilmerton Bridge (new lift) opening at 1430 hrs. (opens every hour on the ½ hour).  Well, we barely made it at 7K & the bridge tender was generous with his opening length of time, even the 2 slower sailboats behind us made it.  Thank you!  And the Deep Creek lockmaster hailed us to say he knew we could do it & how pleased he was for us all!  We followed a tug & barge along the shipping channel past the naval boats & cranes at a reduced speed to our turn off at Waterside Marina.  We did it again—making an arrival at the same time as the Loppers Convention; the marina was jammed with trawlers till Friday, so we were tied up at the one & only possible spot left, on the bulkhead right at the entrance of the marina.  Once electricity & water source were hooked up, we got to scrubbing the cockpit from the dodger to the transom with pinesol, scrub brushes of every size & rags  & all the fresh water we wanted X 2-1/2 hrs.  when the rain settled in for a while.  That area looked better & the stench was somewhat better; we will tackle the transom in the morning.  Supper at Hooters as it was close by, it was rain & most importantly was NHL playoffs are under way so an opportunity to watch.  We went from totally perfect peacefulness last night to the noisy industrial sounds of Norfolk tonight; what a difference 24 hrs. can make.  A cloudy evening & night with periodic showers.

Thurs. May 9, 2013— Day 219:
Destination:  Norfolk (Mile 0)
Winds:  W 5-8K
Weather:  glorious, beautiful warm sun & few clouds later in the day only

One of Norfolk's RR Bridges
Waterside Park
This was one of those perfect weather days that is the reason why you do this kind of adventure & say, “wow, I could do this for the rest of my life”.  I still want to be home more though after all this time.  Winds were west & light, not the predicted SW & light; hope this holds true for our passage tomorrow.  Graeme started cleaning the transom before 0700 hrs. while I prepared breakfast, a relaxed one this fine morning.  Once the transom was done I spent time doing the tedious job of cleaning the stern enclosure windows from all the hardened slim from the flies; 2/3 done in the am & the last 1/3 was done in the later afternoon.  Oh, then lovely long showers, followed by a pleasant walk up Granby St. X 1-2 mi. to Virginia Beach Blvd., past Harrison Opera House that was under construction in the Fall, then back via Monticello through Norfolk Scope (semi pro hockey arena) & Chrysler Hall to MacArthur Center (shopping mall).  Downtown Norfolk looked inviting, beautiful, clean, green, alive with roses in bloom, irises finishing there blooming, magnolias in bud waiting to burst, Fall construction completed & a general revitalization of this entire area!  Time for lunch, without question at Granby St. Pizza for ½ stromboli each + 1 as a takeout.  Peter (owner) recognized us immediately & told us of his wooden kayak building night course & proudly showed pictures.  We returned to the boat & cleaned the last window panel, but the worse in my estimation & put all the cleaning supplies away, anticipating an early morning departure.  I hope all this cockpit & transom cleaning will aid in the cleaning required back in Deltaville to but ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ in good & proper shape for summer storage.  Sens were playing Montreal tonight; they lead the series 3:1 & Graeme insisted in watching our team, so I guess leftovers wait another night & I get another free meal.  The evening weather in this seaport was magnificent & the night was just as great, calm & stars in the night sky. 
Norfolk Scope
P.S.  We did not jinks the Sens; they won 6:1 & thus won the series 4 games to 1!!! On to the round 2 of the playoffs! 

Utilities Payment Depositor

Thurs. May 9, 2013—Day 219:
Destination:  Norfolk (Mile 0)
Winds:  W5-8K
Weather:  glorious, beautiful warm sun & few clouds later in the day only

Mr. & Mrs. Tourist at Waterside Boardwalk
LRT in Norfolk
This was one of those perfect weather days that is the reason why you do this kind of adventure & say, “wow, I could do this for the rest of my life”.  I still want to be home more though after all this time.  Winds were west & light, not the predicted SW & light; hope this holds true for our passage tomorrow.  Graeme started cleaning the transom before 0700 hrs. while I prepared breakfast, a relaxed one this fine morning.  Once the transom was done I spent time doing the tedious job of cleaning the stern enclosure windows from all the hardened slim from the flies; 2/3 done in the am & the last 1/3 was done in the later afternoon.  Oh, then lovely long showers, followed by a pleasant walk up Granby St. X 1-2 mi. to Virginia Beach Blvd., past Harrison Opera House that was under construction in the Fall, then back via Monticello through Norfolk Scope (semi pro hockey arena) & Chrysler Hall to MacArthur Center (shopping mall).  Downtown Norfolk looked inviting, beautiful, clean, green, alive with roses in bloom, irises finishing their blooming, magnolias in bud waiting to burst, Fall construction completed & a general revitalization of this entire area!  Time for lunch, without question at Granby St. Pizza for ½ stromboli each + 1 as a takeout.  Peter (owner) recognized us immediately & told us of his wooden kayak building night course & proudly showed pictures.  We returned to the boat & cleaned the last window panel, but the worse in my estimation & put all the cleaning supplies away, anticipating an early morning departure.  I hope all this cockpit & transom cleaning will aid in the cleaning required back in Deltaville to but ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ in good & proper shape for summer storage.  Sens were playing Montreal tonight; they lead the series 3:1 & Graeme insisted in watching our team, so I guess leftovers wait another night & I get another free meal! The evening weather in this seaport was magnificent & the night was just as great, calm & stars in the night sky. 
P.S.  We did not jinks the Sens; they won 6:1 & thus won the series 4 games to 1!!! On to the round 2 of the playoffs!

Fri. May 10, 2014—Day 220:
Destination:  Norfolk (Mile 0) to Deltaville—Norton’s Yachts (Mile 152.6)
Departure:  0558 hrs.                              Arrival:  1410 hrs.                                Distance:  52.6 SM
Winds:  W to light & variable
Weather:  very sunny, warm & blue skies

One of Several Huge Freighter

Thimble Shoal Lighthouse
The morning alarm came very early, especially since I didn’t get to bed till midnight.  I was surprise I slept so well in anticipation of one more step closer to home!  It took us 1 hour & 35 min. to reach G1ER marker (Tunnel Bridge) from the marina, following & passed by the usual huge freighters & container ships traffic along the Elizabeth River.  And at 0815 hrs. we reached Thimble Shoal Lighthouse.  Despite our cleaning efforts, the cockpit still had a faint offensive odour from those damn May flies.  I had hoped that we would see dolphins today, as we had not seen any for several days, since Beaufort, N.C.  And I was not disappointed; my day was made when we sighted 3-4 frisky ones close by.    A number of trawlers from the Loppers Convention were also on the move making their way to Dozier’s Regatta Point Marina, several sailboats added to the lot + 5 large southbound freighters were seen on the horizon.  While the winds were blowing from the west at 8K we were able to sail, but then they became light to calm & variable.  The Bay chop was quite calm with an occasional rolling wave from an unknown source.  I actually got my bathing suit on & read lying on the deck X a couple of hours before my turn at the helm;  the last time I’ve done that was in the Exumas the later part of Feb.!  Then Home Sweet Home, at least for the boat!  Seven months, 32 weeks or 210 days from the date of departure!  After fuelling up we moved & tied up to a long finger slip on the new docks.  And the packing up immediately began; water & fuel jerry cans were removed from the life lines, 99.9% of my clothes & paraphanalia were packed, all the charts & guide books except for the Chesapeake + marine catalogues were packed & moved to the car.  Graeme called Boat US (insurance) to say we were back in the Chesapeake & now qualified for a refund.  A  quick shower after supper, then the inventory was done of the head & port side of the main cabin.  It was too late & I was too tired to continue.  We hope the weather holds the next 2 days so we can get the exterior boat cleaning done, as we are making a real ambitious effort to depart Mon. to visit friends in Annapolis, then finish the drive home Tues.  I missed the sunset, but a clear sky & stars tonight with mostly calm SSW winds with frequent gusts.

Sat. May 11, 2013—Day 221:
Destination:  Deltaville (Mile 152.6)
Winds: who cares!  N & light
Weather:  heavy clouds, T-storm & rain to start then a mix of sun & cloud, warm almost humid

At Norton's Yacht Sales Yard
Happy 50th Birthday Dave!
A warm night & warm day; naturally, cruising is finished & it is cleaning time!  I woke up this morning tired before even getting out of bed.  There was a long list of work ahead of us.  While the t-storms & rains fell I continued with a thorough inventory of the starboard side of the main cabin, including washing the storage areas with a mixture of Clorox, pinesol & water, a time consuming project.  The ceilings, walls, shelves & a few widely used storage compartments below the floor boards were also thoroughly washed.  Graeme worked outdoors cleaning the stubborn deck stains once the rains stopped, hosed down the carpet runner & made a few trips into town; The Ships Tailor does not clean canvass.  I finally started the laundry at mid afternoon X 6 hrs., washing our duvet, all the boat curtains & decorative cushion covers & terry seat covers.  Cloud cover at sunset but gave way to clear skies & some stars for the night.

Sun. May 12, 2013—Day 222:
Destination:  Deltaville (Mile 152.6)
Weather:  rain followed by a mix of sun & clouds & fresh temps

Norton's Yacht Sales

Happy Mother’s Day!
I attended the 0900 hrs. Mass at Church of the Visitation, less than 15 min. drive; so very warm & friendly!  That gave Graeme the opportunity to start the engine oil change.  Larry called to say they would not be driving up to see us as Lynn was not felling well.  Since it was warm & fairly sunny I worked on polishing the stainless & somewhat rearranged the things already packed in the car, while Graeme completed the oil change.  He insisted going to West Marine, a bad move, as I bought a few more new clothing items, some of which were on sale.  Graeme changed the black spring-loaded mooring lines to the original mooring lines; in retrieving these lines from the storage area by the transom, he discovered this area was inundated with the dead carcasses of May flies.  The area was hosed down which immensely helped with the residual stench.  Some clouds at sunset but a red hue patch was visible.  The breeze was light & fresh from the north.

Mon. May 13, 2013—Day 223:
Destination:  Deltaville to Annapolis
Weather:  Mainly sunny, few clouds but cool with increased winds by evening

The Buckleys
Graeme started the morning with an early meeting with Ian, the service manager for Norton’s, with a list of things that need attention, repairs, etc. which I’m sure will add up to an expensive bill.  Remember how I started this blog way back in October 2012-- a definition of a sailboat is a hole in the water, surrounded by fiberglass, that you throw money into!  He also brought the side & back enclosure panels to UK Sails for cleaning ($7.00/ lb.); the bimini & dodger will have to be done at a later time + all will need to be waterproofed with 303.  In the meantime I prepared the supper that we were providing tonight with our friends in Annapolis.  After a pleasant 3 hrs. drive we spent an enjoyable evening catching on each others’ news & even a boat tour of some of the other creeks we were not familiar with off the South River.  A cool windy evening & night, but a wonderful sleep in a real bed.

Tues. May 14, 2013—Day 224:
Destination:  Annapolis to Deltaville
Weather:  cloudy, cool & few showers

Home Sweet Home!
Charlie cooked us a great breakfast before we said our goodbyes, wishing all a great summer, then went our separate ways, arriving back at the boat at noon.  Yup, we feel we can finish the major remaining projects & be off tomorrow & before the upcoming long weekend both in Canada & the US.  Graeme purchased & delivered his gifts of beer & rum to the service & office departments respectively.  I thoroughly scrubbed the shower & head, V-berth & aft cabin ceilings, walls, shelves with Clorox & pinesol + defrosted & emptied the freezer & fridge & we both finished packing the car—not a hole to spare.  Departure is now unavoidable & inevitable.
Although tired we enjoyed a pizza dinner & thought of our Sens playing their 1st game against Pittsburg Penquins in Round II of the hockey playoffs; Sens lost.  The alarm was set for a very early morning start.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 31: May 1-7, 2013 (Day 211-217)

Week 31:

Wed. May 1, 2013— Day 211:
Destination:  Mile Hammock (Mile 244.5) to Beaufort, N.C. (Mile 202.3)
Departure:  0600 hrs.                               Arrival:  1340 hrs.                                 Distance:  42.2 SM
Winds:  NE 10-20K, gusty & at times howling
Weather:  clouds, sun & blue sky & white fluffy clouds X few hrs. then back to dark clouds & drizzle rain at Moorhead City on

Fishing Boat at Beaufort Bridge
The military were already out at 0530 hrs. in their inflatable setting an underwater course for their divers, beginning & end marked by illuminated floating balls.  Three of us left the anchorage after 1st light; thick, black, stinky mud on the anchor.  We had an on request opening of the Onslow Swing Bridge at 0640 hrs., before it started it’s hourly opening from 0700 to 1900 hrs.  On a rising/flood tide shortly after 0700 hrs. we still saw decent depths passing by Brown’s Inlet, Bear Creek Inlet  & the many tributaries off the Bogue Inlet, especially after Swansboro; a boat had gone aground at G45B at Bogue Inlet but with a rising tide & fast flowing current he got himself off.  We entered Bogue Sound at R42 & R42A & ran the almost straight, boring run to Moorhead City X 20miles.  Mid morning the NE winds increased to 18-20K, we unfurled some jenny & it was useful for a majority of this run that was totally against current; when the wind gusted up, it shifted more to the north & the jenny luffed & when the wind lightened, it shifted more to the east & the jenny was happy.  Once in the turning basin of Morehead City, we left the ICW & followed Morehead City Channel & departed it at G1BH.  We caught the flooding tide to Beaufort & caught the 1330 hrs. opening of Beaufort Bridge (bascule) & anchored in Town Creek by entering the very small & tight anchorage between ICW G15 & Town Creek G1 marker.  A couple of docks & mooring balls in the anchorage now that crowds one’s anchoring possibilities.  “Fish Tails” restaurant is now closed, 1 dock destroyed in Hurricane Irene was still not repaired & the fuel dock looks like it needs some attention; is Town Creek Marina showing signs of difficulty?  On & off drizzle & dark clouds the rest of the afternoon, evening & night, with winds piping up now & again.

Thurs. May 2, 2014— Day 212:
Destination:  Beaufort (Mile 202.3)
Winds:  N to NE calm, increasing to 10-22K especially with gusts that came in short bursts
Weather:  grey, damp & dreary, cloud with drizzly rain, improved in late afternoon to sun & blue sky

Boat Building Shop 

A dreary morning for sure & no hurry to get anywhere.  A boat shower that felt good, then we went to the marina so Graeme could refill 3 jerry cans with diesel & I took the opportunity to charge my computer while checking emails.  A very fine drizzly rain continued to fall most of the am, but the wind was calm as we took the dinghy under the Beaufort Bridge, around the waterfront of Beaufort & tied up at the public dock.  We then walked Front St.   A boatshow & a boat building contest in a restricted period of time followed by that boat been raced were the main events for Sat. May 4.  We had lunch outside but under cover at “Finz”, then visited the boat building shop (part of the museum) open to the public, followed by a quick tour at the museum (free admission).  Shopping is not my thing as I prefer to walk the side streets & observe the surroundings which I have done in the past.  Palms are now very few & far between, water is not like chocolate milk but cleaner looking, although one can’t see their chain & anchor after a few feet when anchoring, unlike the Bahamas & the bottom is now thick, black, sticky, stinky mud, not the sand or sandy mud with seashells.  Returning to Florida we started hearing the sound of krill at night eating  at growth on the hull; here in Beaufort, N.C.  I have not heard that sound—too cold for them as well & I have slept like a baby the minute my head hits the pillow till morning.  As we were dinghying home we saw the ‘Twomorrows” slowly making their way to the 1530 hr. opening of the Beaufort Bridge.  The bridge in fact broke down afterwards for several hours leaving boats to make alternate decisions.  We were invited to ‘Twomorrows’ for a lamb dinner; not just lamb but marinated, BBQ lamb with orzo & baby asparagus, all done to perfection, followed by Nassau Royale!  My I have missed these very fun nights together!  Although the clouds cleared progressively more during the afternoon, there was no visible sunset, but a mostly clear dark night with zillions of stars.

Fri. May 3, 2013— Day 213:
Destination:  Beaufort (Mile 202.3)
Winds:  NE 15K early am, building dramatically & gusting to 15-25K with frequent 30+K
Weather:  mix of cloud & sun, cool very strong breeze & warm sun

Sweet Smelling Jasmine just starting to appear

The NE winds & it’s strength were a very disappointing element today, preventing us advancing further north.  It was not even feasible to make the 14.8 SM distance to Cedar Creek off Adams Creek.  There were small craft warnings & flood advisory warnings in place till Saturday night. We are 5 days from homeport & can’t get there comfortably!!! The NE winds continued to howl, keeping us cool & have plagued us since April 13th & there is no change in sight till maybe Sunday night.  I have been reading about & planning my exercise program & dreaming to getting back in shape, losing some weight & getting back to cycling like a strong athlete when I get back to Ottawa.  Bed linen was changed & the water tanks were topped with the reserve water jerry cans.  ‘Twomorrows’ anchor suddenly started to drag; they reanchored.  Graeme dinghied me to shore then returned to the boat.  I powerwalked X 1 hrs. to & from Historic Beaufort which is not really that large an area, but it felt good just getting out & about, sweet smelling the jasmine periodically that was just starting to bloom.  It also gave me time to think about me, my present situation & state of mind, what I should & am going to do when I get back home.  When I returned Lynn & Larry had gone.  They had dragged again, tried to reanchor a few more times, then felt best to move north to Cedar Creek fighting a 30K wind.  I checked emails & posted prose & pictures on my blog while charging my computer.  The marina staff were gracious & allowed me to use their shower facilities.  Back on the boat we lifted the motor & dinghy.  Depending on the winds we prefer to leave early & anchor with the Morrows at Cedar Creek, situating us close to the Neuse River & Pamilco Sound, hoping to cross early Sunday morning before winds increase to much & affect sea state of these 2 large, open bodies of water.  We heard & communicated with Merrill (Ambition) approaching & departing Beaufort; they continued across the rough waters of the Neuse River on a beam reach to Oriental with 30+K NE winds & occasional 40K!  A somewhat clouded evening & night.

Sat. May 4, 2013—Day 214:
Destination:  Beaufort (Mile 202.3) to Cedar Creek (Mile 187.5)
Departure:  0755 hrs.                             Arrival:  1115 hrs.                                      Distance:  14.8 SM
Winds:  unrelenting NE 15-27K with gusts of +/-30K
Weather:  cool, cloud & sporadic rain with brief periods of a sun trying to break through

The NE winds subsided some during the night, but it wasn’t long when they made their presence once again this morning.  And another cool, grey & dreary day with periods of rain.  Boats out in the Neuse River reported 25-30K winds & 2-4 ft. waves; another no go day.  The anchor was well embedded in thick, black, sticky, stinky mud; it took a long time to clean off that mud with the deck wash.  We fought a 15-27K wind the whole route, mostly on the nose + a current; the tide was ebbing right from Gallant Cut to Russell Slough Channel, Adams Creek Canal to Adams Creek into Cedar Creek.  This morning I wore an undershirt, long sleeve T, sweat top, fleece pants & rain gear.  And it was 27 & 24C in Ottawa the last 2 days!!!  We anchored in 8 ft. with 80-100 ft. chain in protection in Cedar Creek; there was residual mud & dirt on the chain & I may have missed one of the chain link markers.  A very short travel day, but a move closer north nevertheless.  The sun tried to break through occasionally & in so doing it raised the temp inside the cockpit enclosure; this led to a chain of change of clothes, 1st the rain gear was removed & then into shorts & short sleeve T.  Heavier clouds & fine misty rain rolled in, decreasing visibility beyond the anchorage & the clothes were changed back to warm wear again.  Weather & winds are now not predicted to improve till Tuesday!  I am going to scream.  I can’t stand this inactivity any longer.  My ass is sore from doing nothing but sitting.  I feel trapped like a prisoner.  This is driving me nuts!  When I look back we have continually had NE winds since April 13th, but the weather has been unseasonably cool with mostly a northerly wind since the latter part of February, with only a very few sporadic days of reprieve—that is 2-1/2 months!!!  Enough!!!  No sunset, no stars, no moon; only cool temps, clouds & that damn howling strong wind!

Sun. May 5, 2013— Day 215:
Destination:  Cedar Creek (Mile 187.5) to Campbell Creek (Mile 154.3)
Departure:  0640 hrs.                               Arrival:  1310 hrs.                                    Distance:  33.2 SM
Winds:  N25-31K, ENE +/-20K by evening              Seas:  2-3 ft. occasional 4 ft, ramped to 4-5 ft.
Weather:  heavy cloud, light cloud, faint sun breaks & back to cloud

Our Route on the Neuse River & Pamlico Sound
We listened to NOAA once again after our early rise & weather, but more importantly the winds were no better in direction &/or strength; rain was predicted for everyday, even thunderstorms in a couple of days.  The wind direction was to shift to the east later on but this did not add any advantage factor when travelling the Neuse River & Pamlico Sound.  I was leaning towards giving it a shot, although not liking the wind strength, but I was told not to complain if it’s too rough.  We bit the bullet & left with 20-25K north winds (not NE as predicted) & 1-2 ft. waves.  We crossed the Neuse River towards Oriental & headed along that NW side; the winds ramped up to 22-27K & waves to 3-4 ft.  We pitched & rolled over & through some waves but now & again we had some slammers.  Frequent water spray & waves were experienced over the bow, crashing on the deck & up to the dodger + waves 3 feet higher than our decks came crashing off the starboard & port sides when we smashed down a wave.  Graeme was the one complaining.  He noticed that the stainless pole the wind generator was fastened to had detached from the base fitting & only supported by the 2 other supports; he tied the supports to the pushpit.  Graeme compensated for the sliding down angle by heading the boat well high of the shoal marker at Maw Point.  We were very exposed out at this shoal marker, winds were consistently 30-31K & waves were 4-5 ft.  Our boat speed was a dreadful 3.2-4.5K.  By about 1100 hrs. we finally  took a wide round turn around the marker towards Bay River, rolling side to side until we were able to turn further down the Bay River.  Now our boat speed was 6K & waves were 1 ft. & winds were only 18-20K; more comfortable, but I didn’t say a word.  We re-entered the ICW at Hobuken Cut & under Hobuken Bridge where the water was calm & the winds appeared less because of land protection.  Winds finally showed east & it’s true strength out into Goose Creek.  Should we anchor at Campbell Creek or Eastham Creek?  We followed the private channel markers into Campbell Creek (most of the red markers missing) & dropped anchor in 8 ft. letting out 100 ft. of chain.  ‘Ambition’ was shortly behind.  ‘Tomorrows’ stayed another night in Cedar Creek.  Joe Frost phoned & has been stuck in Hampton X 3 days as the Cheaspeake was safely unnavigable with these unrelenting, very strong north winds.  Again now sunset, no moon, no stars, only cloud & howling winds.

Mon. May 6, 2013— Day 216:
Destination:  Campbell Creek (Mile 154.3) to Alligator River North—G39 (Mile 101.1)
Departure:  0710 hrs.                                    Arrival:  1515 hrs.                         Distance: 53.2 SM
Winds:  E 15-20K
Weather:  lots of cloud, fair amount of rain, few periods of sun & blue sky not in that order

Pamlico River Route
The ENE winds blew & howled well into the night; I just don’t know when they settled down because it was calmer at 0500 hrs.  We actually saw a visible sunrise amongst the clouds with a shower thrown in of course.  First problem of the day was encountered early, which in fact delayed our departure: an invasion of millions if not billions of may flies, without a word of a lie!  They look like mosquitoes, but fortunately they don’t bite.  They totally invaded the cockpit enclosure; canvass, nav instruments, wheel, seats, cockpit cushions, floor!  In some areas they were ¼ inch thick with no exaggeration.  Added to the problem was most were dead, only their carcasses left, that turned to sticky, gummy, slim & the smell was offensive, sickening.  Just to operate the chartplotter, to put your hands on the wheel, to have a place to sit was a monumental task to clean & used an abundance of precious fresh water & paper towels & rags.  We would need a hose, lots of water & soap & brush.  We met a tug & barge entering Goose Creek as we were exiting.  It was pleasantly warm, sunny with some blue sky for a nice change. There was a 1 ft. lightly bouncy chop on the Pamlico River.  East winds, not the SE that were predicted, allowed the use of some jenny as we scooted along at 7K, but it was back on the nose on the Pungo River, the same time the winds piped up to 20K.  I spent most of this time washing & rinsing repeatedly, trying to get a start on cleaning the fly infestation.  Then came the boring 22 mile route through the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal.  Here the skies quickly & increasingly got consumed with dark clouds from the south & followed soon by repeatedly short lived heavy rains & 20K winds which were more consistent.  Coming out of the canal we experienced recurring heavy rain, high winds & poor visibility; above the water line it was similar to dense fog, all grey.  We anchored east of G39 towards but well off the shore in 8-9 ft. laying 100 ft. of chain.  More fun begins—Graeme attached the water hose to our anchor deck wash & we scrubbed & rinsed over & over again for >1-1/2 hours to get rid of the may fly carcasses; the only problem was all the rinsing was done with salt water!  I also tackled the flies that escaped to the interior, mostly the ceilings & windows.  Since ‘Ambition’ was not inundated with flies, Merrill suggested it was our Davis anchor light that Graeme has been hanging in the cockpit since we have lost 2 Davis lights already from water leaking in & rusting the circuit board that attracted them.  Aha, probably that was it!  We never want to experience that ever again!  Well I guess that is what I get for complaining about sitting on my ass all day reading & doing suduko!  The skies tried to clear but by sunset time dark clouds had invaded with periodic rain as well as at night.

Tues. May 7, 2013— Day 217:
Destination:  Alligator River North—G39 (Mile 101.1) to Goat Island, Pasquotank River (Mile 43)
Departure:  0620hrs.                                 Arrival:  1450 hrs.                              Distance:  58.1 SM
Winds:  light & variable to E15K to S & variable from 3-10K
Weather:  nice warm mix of sun & cloud, showers & threat of thunderstorm X2

Tug & Barge on the Abermarle
A quiet night, that is no howling winds, only on & off rain.  The Davis light was tied outside of the enclosure under the solar panels last night; there were a lot of May flies outside the enclosure but also residual on the inside from the night before last; the cockpit & side decks were still snotty in more ways than one & the nauseating putrid smell persisted.  It was warmish & humid this am when we woke at 1st light.  There was only us & 3 trawlers anchored last night & we were the 1st to leave.  The wind was light & variable, starting with it on our nose as we made our way to the Alligator Bridge.  The bridge was having some maintenance work performed which gave us the opportunity to caught up to a few boats & make their requested opening about 0900 hrs.  The wind increased to 15K, stabilized & blew from the east, which permitted us to sail across the Abermarle Sound on a beam reach at about 6.7K with 1-2 ft. chop & few 3 footers thrown in occasionally, dogging numerous lines of crab pots, in the warm sun, until we turned downwind from the Sound towards the Pasquotank River; more dogging of numerous crab pots.  Now the winds were on our stern & too light at <5K so of no use.  Almost all other boats headed to the Virginia Cut route.  An area of unpleasant looking clouds with the likelihood of showers & maybe even thunderstorms appeared in the distance at our stern; will they chase us down the Pasquotank?  But they passed us to the north.  The Virginia Cut was another location on my list to see because we had never done it but not to be & I guess it will remain that way.  When we passed a few boats were in the Elizabeth City free slips & no boats were on the bulkhead; don’t believe that was the case at the end of the day.  The Elizabeth City Bridge (bascule) opened on request for us at about 1410 hrs.; construction happening immediately south of the bridge.  I had hoped that we might make the last opening of South Mills Lock & Bridge at 1530 hrs. but not at this late hour.  So Goat Island it was.  There was a sense of total blissfulness as we continued on along Pasquotank River past Elizabeth City.  Only sights, sounds & smells of Spring!  We anchored in 8-9 ft. water & 100 ft. chain & were the lone boat here tonight.  Diesel from 2 jerry cans were added to the boat tank, some more hosing of the slim of the May flies on the port side deck, but the water was clear but too brown in colour to hose any further.  Late afternoon the warm sun was quickly replaced by dark nasty clouds that looked like a thunderstorm was about to hammer us; S to SE winds blew up rocking the boat, a smattering of rain, then back to sun & fluffy clouds.  A new phenomenon tonight—clear sky & stars! 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week 30: Apr. 24-30, 2013 (Day 204- 210)

Week 30:  

Wed. Apr. 24, 2013—Day 204:
Destination:  Church Creek (Mile 488.2) to Charleston Maritime Center (Mile 464.1)
Departure:  0705 hrs.                             Arrival:  1115 hrs.                                   Distance:  42.1 SM
Winds:  calm, NE shifting to S to SSW by evening & calm at night
Weather:  low lying fog over the water & marsh grasses, clear & sunny, thick fog then clear & sunny once again

Sunrise in Church Creek
Mist over the water 
Mist hung over the water & saltwater marsh grasses at sunrise; most picturesque!  The water surface was calm last night & a mirror this morning.  Moisture+++ clung to the windows; at departure time we had to roll the side & front windows up in order to see.  Also a very picturesque view until 1-2 mi. from Church Creek; the fog became more intense, thick+++ for a few miles.   Graeme had to maneuver the boat via the chartplotter alone under reduced speed.  It then quickly thinned & the brilliant sunshine & cloudless sky was upon us.  We left on a rising tide, against current & at R20 the tide reversed & now we were with the current.  Our timing was good as maximum tide at Stono River & Elliott Cut was at 0810 hrs. & we entered the cut at 0941 hrs. on a falling tide, which runs to Charleston Harbor, therefore we ran the cut with the current at a speed of 8.8K & through at 0944 hrs. (3 minutes!).  The Wappoo Creek Bridge (bascule) opening was at 1000 hrs.  Against current we ran the Ashley River, turning behind a large freighter up the Cooper River in the shipping lane.  At the appropriate time & after passing the entrance a short distance, Graeme turned into the Charleston Maritime Center Marina, having to be very careful to avoid clipping the bowsprit of a Swedish tallship, hanging ½ way into the entrance channel.  Graeme maneuvered well into the slip & 2 dock hands were available to catch our midship & bow lines.  Lunch, registered at the marina office & paid for 2 nights & I washed my hair.  We now had ½ a day to tour, then a full day tomorrow.  Although the S to SSW breeze increased, the sun shone & it was warm enough to walk around downtown in shorts.  We started at the Aquarium & Fort Sumter Museum for their hours of operation (a national park, so Graeme can use his lifetime pass to tour for free, except for the ferry ride to Fort Sumter), down Calhoun to King St., to the City Market & an early supper (1730 hrs.--yuks!) Noisy Oyster on E. Bay St. before walking back to the marina & boat.  Clouds started to roll in,  but some orangey sky after sunset.  Non official full moon visible, few stars but difficult to see with all the city lights.
Ravenal Bridge

Thurs. Apr. 25, 2013—Day 205:

Destination:  Charleston (Mile 464.1)

Winds:  very light westerlies till 1615 hrs., then NNW with thunderstorm 15K X45 min. then calm by further shifting to NE

Weather:  pleasant sunny day till 1500 hrs., then black skies from the west with rain then lightning & thunder & heavy rains about 1615 hrs., then clouds & on & off rain

One of my many photos of wrought iron gates
Splendid Gardens & Huge Balconies

Graeme & I toured most of the day separately; it was good to have the chance to have our own space.  My decision was to tour by bike or walk; I certainly needed the  exercise to start shedding some added weight.  I sure put in many miles over a total of 4-1/2 walking hours, in & out of main streets, side streets & lanes in the following areas of historic Charleston: Ansonborough (Laurens & Anson St.), Downtown (Cumberland, State, Church, Meeting, Queen St.), South of Broad (East Bay, Church, Meeting, Longitude Lane, Water, Atlantic, South Battery St.)  & Harleston Village (Queen, Broad, Colonial Lake, Moultrie Park, Barre, Beaufain, Market St.).  I saw many designs of infamous Charleston wrought iron doors, gates & fences & patterns adorned to walls.  Typical Charleston homes were of the colonial & Victorian style with street doors, tall 2 storey narrow homes with long balconies, some on 1 level & others on 2 levels facing south or west to catch the prevailing winds on hot summer days, some single homes but many attached to one another yet separate buildings & different in design & architecture.  Some homes had large yards & gardens, but many had small manicured, sculpted yards & all with very rich, new & alive green colours.  Colourful flower boxes adorned homes & even lanes.  Colourful flowers were seen in yards & plantars, as well as flowering trees & shrubs; magnolias were in bud, but I did saw one full blossom.  Charleston is a place one must visit to take in & appreciate all the sights.  Everyone falls in love with Charleston; I have BIG time.   At noon I attended the St. Philip’s Church Tea Room Luncheon (Apr. 22-26, 2013 at 1130-1400 hrs.)—superb as always.  Graeme & I met at the south end of City Market & walked the market from west to east when we saw black rain clouds approaching.  A drink at Molly Darcy on East Bay St. & the 1st rain hit.  We donned our raincoats when the rain subsided & walked to Harris Teeter (ground beef, butter & 2 apples).  Back at the marina we confirmed tomorrow morning’s tides & our departure time.  The 2nd wave of black clouds & very heavy rains with lightning & thunder arrived with about 15K NNW winds X 45 min., then calm.  On & off rainy periods followed.  A cloudy evening & partially cloudy night; few stars seen but not the official full moon.

Outside Seating at St. Philip's Tea Luncheon

Seagrass Basket

 There are so many more photos I have & would like to add to my blog, but there so little space to do so! 

Fri. Apr. 26, 2013—Day 206:

Destination:  Charleston (Mile 464.1) to Minim Creek (Mile 415.4)

Departure:  0810 hrs.                             Arrival:  1720 hrs.                                      Distance:  48.7 SM

Winds:  NE 8K, quickly increased to 15-20K with 25K gusts, consistent 20-25K & E+/-15K at evening
Weather:  cloudy & semi cool start, then quickly wall to wall sun & very blue sky

Low Tide Nearing McCellanville
It was stand in line for a shower this morning even at 0700 hrs.  Jeff assisted us off the dock with ease at fairly slack high tide (high tide= 0853 hrs.).  Less than one hour to high tide we pushed against tide the 1.9 mi. to Ben Sawyer (bascule) Bridge; once vehicular traffic was cleared we made a requested opening & passed through at 0918 hrs.  Oh, did I mention that the wind was on our nose?  All day!!!  And to boot the winds increased significantly + against a falling tide, at full moon time, which means higher highs & more importantly lower lows.   No problems were encountered with the depths through Isle of Palm & Awendaw Creek area, BUT approaching McCellanville at 1400 hrs. (6 hrs. post Charleston), 1-1/2 hrs. before max. low tide, we experienced very, very low water of 5’5” to 6 ft. at G39 & G37 to G35A & 4’8” to 5 ft. at G35A to G35; we didn’t touch but how can that be when we draw 4’11” empty!  I drove a lot today, but glad that Graeme did that stretch as I would have freaked.  The seesaw effect with our speed was apparent today depending on the direction of the water flow from it’s source on a falling tide; very infrequently we were on the “saw” side & did not have any push + a more or less 20K wind also against us & some whitecapped chop.  The wind & current were so strong that many of the fish traps had a hard time to stay above water.  We saw dolphins early in the morning in Charleston & maybe one alligator swimming in the water of the Cape Romain Wildlife National Reserve, some birds diving for fish but that was all.  So all in all it was a nerve racking & frustrating day.  We anchored on a rising low tide in the east Minim Creek in 8 ft. water with 80 ft. of chain with still a brilliant sun shining & blue sky & a cool +/-15K east wind, which continued to lie down at sunset.  Four boats here tonight.  A cloud suddenly appeared & across the setting sun.  A pitch dark night, stars & a later rising fullish moon.  

Sat. Apr. 27, 2013—Day 207:
Destination:  Minim Creek (Mile 415.4) to Osprey Marina, Myrtle Beach (Mile 373.5)
Departure:  0705 hrs.                                  Arrival:  1305 hrs.                                 Distance:  41.9 SM
Winds:  mostly ENE to E 8-15K
Weather:  light cloud cover at the start, soon sun & cloud mix, then full sun & blue skies early afternoon before a line of clouds rolled in from the west

Barge & Tug in the Waccamaw River
Turtles in Osprey Marina & throughtout the Waccamaw 

Three of the four boats left one after the other on this calm morning.  We were pushed with the tidal current.  A barge & tug passed the entrance of the creek just in front of all of us, taking up a majority of the width of the Esterville Minim Creek Canal.  We passed Georgetown at 0840 hrs., still with the current.   In fact, the further north we travelled today, the later high tide was; this meant we were with the current all day & were able to maintain a boat speed of 6.2-6.7K with low engine RPM’s, & thus made good travelling time.  We followed the barge & tug into the Waccamaw River (Mile 403).  This river is deeply wooded to it’s banks & especially alive with new growth & vibrant greens in the Spring, one of the most scenic part of all of the ICW with moss-draped cypress trees, wildflowers & greenery growing in cypress stumps, brown coffee coloured water & numerous great anchorages filled with birds & fish.  Several boats made a fuel stop at Osprey Marina, our destination for the night, so we had to slow up with our arrival time & even tied up at the transient dock till the fuel dock was clear & our turn in line.  Once our diesel tank was topped with a whopping 9-1/2 gals. compared to 300 gals. for other boats we moved & tied in our assigned slip (C10).  It was early to stop for the day, but this was one of Graeme’s favourite places; it boasts superb hospitality, great facilities, very friendly & helpful, the best welcome package of all marinas & inexpensive.  So often going south you hit certain anchorages & marinas & different favourites coming north.  If I wasn’t so anxious to get home we would stay in a few anchorages off this wonderful river.  Big mileage & some caution shallow areas tomorrow + rain in the forecast, but we are hoping to reunite with Lynn & Larry.  Clouds at sunset as well as during the night.

Sun. Apr. 28, 2013—Day 208:
Destination:  Osprey Marina, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Mile 373.5) to St. James Marina, Southport, N.C. (Mile 315)
Departure:  700 hrs.                                       Arrival:  1600 hrs.                                Distance: 58.5 SM
Winds:  NE to E 8K steadily increasing to 10-15K to 18-22K
Weather:  light cloud with few sunny breaks, cool breeze

Cable Car over ICW at Myrtle Beach Golf Course
Little River Swing Bridge
Only in the South!
A great shower with a powerful shower head last night & again this early am.  It was calm as usual in this protected marina, so we were off the dock easily by ourselves before the marina opened at 0800 hrs.  A few boats were already in the ICW when we departed.  We carried the current in our favour at about 6.5K until Grand Dunes where the current reversed.  We caught the Socastee Swing Bridge (Mile 370.9) opening at 0730 hrs. & the Barefoot Landing Swing Bridge (Mile 354.3) opening at 1000 hrs. Through the Rockpile  (Mile 353 to 349) at 1015 hrs. we saw depths of 13-15 ft.  And finally, we passed the Little River Swing Bridge at 1109 hrs.  We left South Caroline shortly after Calabash River & Little River Inlet at 1155 hrs. & entered North Carolina against current.  Passing through Shallotte Inlet at 1340 hrs. was no problem with depths, but our speed dropped from 7.7K to 3.6K.  Yes, of course the wind was on our nose & a hindrance when it reached strengths of 18-22K & one travels in an easterly direction from northern South Carolina coastline into North Carolina as well.  There was a lot of Sunday recreational waterway traffic ie powerboats+++ & seadoos, almost as bad as Florida on a weekend, just as disrespectful of other boats by not announcing themselves when passing & especially disrespectful of the environment with their wake; the only difference was the boats were just not as big as in Florida.  I tried to read sitting on the combing & lying on the deck but it was just too damn cold.  And finally the last challenge of the day was through Lockwoods Folly at 1510 hrs. 1-1/2 hrs. before low tide; lots of chatter on the VHF with reports coming as boats passed.  I stayed to the green side of midline, on the magenta line of the chartplotter & saw 7.4 to 8.8 ft.  As like the other inlets, there was turbulence you needed to steer with.  I seemed to be driving through all the caution areas today.  Mike & Larry assisted to tying us up at dockside (D10), but Graeme did another good boat maneuvering.  Then hellos, a drink, snacks & enjoyable conversation on ‘Twomorrows’.  Last minute decision was to throw in a load of laundry on while we had dinner at the restaurant; 1 washer & 1 dryer $1.00 each.   A clouded evening with rain threatening & a clouded night sky.

Mon. Apr. 29, 2013-- Day 209:
Destination:  St. James Marina (Mile 315) to Banks Channel, Wrightsville (Mile 283.2)
Departure:  0920 hrs.                                 Arrival:  1400 hrs.                                    Distance:  31.8 SM
Winds:  NE <10K, S <10K only in evening
Weather:  heavy cloud then rain+++ till noon, few sunny periods mid afternoon & back to rain

When we could see this Fishing Boat & free food for Pelicans
Carolina Beach
Due to heavy rains this am the decision was whether to part or not & also in keeping with the most favourable passage method of the Cape Fear River; Skipper Bog suggests leaving Southport 1 hr. before high tide is most advantageous & we were 1 hr. from Southport.  We listened to NOAA, conferred with Lynn & her weather sources & let one wave of heavy rain pass before making our final decision.  There was nothing to do here, nothing close by, Lynn & Larry were going with friends from Wilmington for the day & the rain had let up; we were going.  We were assisted off the dock by marina staff & eased out of the slip.  Soon afterwards in the ICW black clouds to the NW were very evident, heavy rains commenced again & much to our dismay there was lightning & thunder; do we continue or turn back???  We set up a fan to circulate air on the front dodger window to keep it somewhat clear.  At 1030 hrs. we arrived at Southport & entered the Cape Fear River.  It was raining so heavily at this point we could only see approximately ¼ mile ahead; it was just like thick fog.  Suddenly we saw stationary tugs with boom-like apparatus attached on starboard then on port, but at first glance were they on the move or not?  We picked up the shipping channel, announced our presence to concerned traffic & picked our way from one channel marker to the other with heavy assistance from the chartplotter.  Our boat speed was 8K with the flood tide & fortunately the sea state was calm.  Just after a picking up the sighting of a long dock to port (? ferry dock) we saw a moving vessel coming towards us & thought it was a tug; we hailed the “tug” & the ferry boat announced her presence; we apologized for our error.  Shortly afterwards the rain eased & stopped & the visibility improved & we continued picking our way maintaining good speed.  Phew!  No ships or freight traffic were encountered, which was most unusual for this large commercial channel; we only saw a small fishing boat with a large trailing & following of pelicans for free food.  We left the shipping channel at G33 & re-established ourselves on the ICW to Snows Cut near noontime; we were just off high tide, so had good depths (16 ft.) through this section.  The bridge was under repairs but a non-issue for our 54 ft. mast.  We turned to port in the ICW that runs parallel to the Carolina Beach Inlet & a notorious shoaling spot, but not a problem just 1 hr. off high tide.  Here the current changed & our speed dropped until we were nearing & feeling the positive sucking effects of Masonboro Inlet.  Some very dark, very ugly clouds to the east out to sea, some clearing & blue sky to the NE as well as south.  The light NE winds today were on our nose; no south winds as predicted until evening time.  We left the ICW at G129 & took the deeper Shinn Creek passage to the Banks Channel anchorage (10 ft. water & 90 ft. chain).  Even though it was stressful traversing Cape Fear River with restricted visibility, our timing was exact from marina against current on a rising tide, through Southport & up the Cape Fear River with the current still on a rising tide & through Snows Cut with the current 1 hr. after high tide, thus on a high falling tide.  An early arrival time, but time to rest the frazzled nerves. Only 7 boats tonight at this usually popular anchorage.  A few sunny periods mid afternoon before more clouds & fine rain settled in over the late afternoon, evening & night.

Tues. Apr. 30, 2013—Day 210:
Destination:  Wrightsville Beach (Mile 283.2) to Mile Hammock (Mile 244.5)
Departure:  0715 hrs.                                Arrival:  1450 hrs.                                Distance:  38.7 SM
Winds:  NNE to NE 8K, increased to 10-15K, then E to N & calm at sunset
Weather:  clouds with few bright periods & times when the sun broke through the clouds

Clams or Oysters?

Mile Hammock
The last day of another month (#7).  Weather-wise, a 2nd disappointingly cool month with mostly northerly winds, although most days were sunny ones; yesterday especially & today were the two most cloudiest days so far on the whole trip.  We calculated yesterday that it would be best to catch the 0800 hrs. opening of Wrightsville Beach Bridge (bascule) & then hourly openings on the other 2 following bridges so as to play the tides most effectively; that would gives us an hour into a rising tide when we upanchored & 1-2 hrs. after high tide when we would be transiting the New River, a shallow problem area.  But we did temporarily went aground ever so gently on Motts Channel at G25; there must be a hump extending from the docks, so one must absolutely go directly on a line at G25 marker.  After the Wrightsville Beach Bridge at 0800 hrs. we took the hour to do the 5 mile distance to Figure Eight Swing Bridge & thought 2 to 2-1/2 hrs. to Surf City Swing Bridge like when we were southbound in the Fall, but we were too late for the 1100 hrs. opening & passed through at 1200 hrs., which would make us into the 2 hrs. post high tide time frame for New River.  The winds were directly on our nose, not too much boat traffic & the same Mile action with boat speed with the many small & larger inlets from the ocean.  There were fewer & fewer palm trees the last few days coming north, but an increasing number of new osprey nests on the channel markers than further south.  As I’ve been doing the majority of the driving the last few days, I’ve been able to see the lay of the land & put visual pictures to places I’ve read in the various cruising guidebooks.  We arrived at the New River Inlet at 1420 hrs. & saw depths of 13-15 ft. except 1 spot at 72A (10 ft.).  We were the 3rd boat in & anchored in 12 ft. water with 80 ft. of chain, but by sunset there were a total of 13 boats.  When upanchoring this am, I noticed the bowroller was not as it should be (spindle had come unscrewed); Graeme did some repair while underway & completed the job after anchoring.  About 1715 hrs. a military dinghy came over to a few of us boats & asked with we would reanchor slightly more eastward as they were conducting diving maneuvers this evening.  Also we were warned by a boat that we travelled through all the bridges today that the Onslow Bridge was closed down for a couple of hours for repairs.  This is the bridge we will need to open within 3.4 mi. tomorrow morning.  Graeme hailed them on the VHF & the bridge was now operational.  We had quite a display of military maneuvers after sunset, between divers in the water & repeated twin blade & regular helicopter landings & take-offs; very noisy way after dark till 2200 hrs..  Clouds were heavy at sunset but somehow the sun seemed to have found a small break in the cloud & a brilliant red shone just over the land & through the trees.  A 30 sec. rain shower & a dark night.