Friday, October 31, 2008

Mile Zero

Here we are at mile 0 of the Intra Coastal Waterway after a great day on the water and wonderful anchorage last night. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and an equally beautiful sunrise in Fishing Bay. The wind died, the first time since arriving in Virginia we weren’t listening to the wind howl. The night was calm and quiet.
Lest you think we are alone and crazy there were 17 boats in the anchorage. After an hour on the Bay this morning with steady 14 knot winds from the west everyone had their sails up – we could count 18 boats behind us and 12 in front of us. Only a few were trawlers. We left Fishing bay @ 7:15 and arrived at Hospital point in Porstmouth/Norfolk at 4:00 PM – our sail lasted 4 ½ hours before the wind shifted and was on our bow making us motor the rest of the way. We feel like we have worked damn hard just to get to mile zero – Beaufort NC is mile 204 Vero beach is mile 900 and something – a long way to go and lots of foibles still to come we are sure of that!!
This anchorage is interesting - (about 17 boats again ) the cities of Portsmouth and Norfolk in front and behind us. We had to spend time in the shipping channel, watching for and giving leeway to barges, naval ships, container ships and the chase boats that guard the navy ships. Once we turned the corner out of the bay the air was much warmer and we enjoyed a beer and dinner out in the cockpit. I am thrilled not to have the heater on and it’s 66 in the boat vs the 44 it was this morning.
So off to the dismal swamp tomorrow and yes tomorrow night will be spent there at the visitors center – hmmm ……let’s hope we have no visitors …. Happy Halloween ! Margaret & Don click on photos for larger photo but then hit "back"

Sailing - yes actually sailing ! Norfolk,VA Tiller - chiller !

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Short day

That tale we didn’t want to have to tell~ well here it is !!!:) . We woke up this morning and our boat was hard aground in the slip at the dock. As I mentioned yesterday, days of hard west winds have actually driven zillions of gallons of water out of the Chesapeake Bay and it’s little creeks. Healey creek is very small – maybe 60 feet wide with the water channel being only 20 feet wide. It S’s and as you navigate the s’s you need to swing way wide of the points of land as they shoal far out into the creek. With normal tides it has 5 – 8 feet of water at high tide - We need 5 to 5 ½ feet of water to float. Low tide was at 6:30 AM– by 8:15 Don was able to push the boat off the mud and slowly out into the pool in front of the docks. We made our way very slowly keeping good water at 7 feet. In the middle of the last S, where the travel channel is at it’s narrowest – we were a little too far to port and went aground. (the bottom is sand here not rock like Maine ! ) We tried backing off immediately no luck. So we just had to wait it out for higher tide. After an hour or so we decided to launch the dingy so Don could get a good handle on the water depths and perhaps kedge the boat off using an anchor off the dingy. Just as we got the dingy flipped over on the deck I felt our bow move. I ran back to the tiller and sure enough ~ shouted to Don our bow was swinging. He was able to back us off and into the deeper pool behind us where we dropped our anchor to wait for even higher tide.

So the day was shot because the trip to Hampton is too long to start mid morning. There are not any anchorages below the Piankitank River – so from here you have to go all the way to Hampton/Norfolk. Jackson Creek is one option but that is very tricky and shallow and S’s within a few feet of the shore. We bumped ground there once and have seen many boats ground while we have been at anchor. Not in the mood for a challenge this afternoon.

With the unusual low water we decided to pull into Fishing bay – A small cove with 18 feet of water ( about the size of the cove at the cape ) . It’s known for poor holding in stormy weather but with these COLD north winds we are protected by shore – we are anchored with 7 Canadian boats most of whom came down the bay this morning for 4 or 5 hours - a short day – to set them up for the long day to Hampton tomorrow. This is a beautiful spot and the sun is warm and we have our heater on though it refuses to work properly and we can not leave it on while we sleep.
It was in the 30’s this morning – we have an open cockpit so we are not protected from the weather. Tonight will be a hard frost but milder winds – we have been colder so we are ok.

It is good to have the time we took last night and are taking today to study our charts, we’ve got the boat really pulled together. Tiller didn’t skip a beat – he knew exactly where he was though he dragged his claws a little on the dock going to the boat ! So this afternoon we’ll just sit around, watch the other boats come in and pick cat hair off our layers of fleece clothing.

For anyone interested – google the "Dismal Swamp "– that is where we are headed after our night in Norfolk – Hampton ~ Everyone says it’s beautiful – I believe them but I have to tell you I am terrified of what lives there – in the water – in the trees – We have lost a few days and hope to catch up with our friend Greg so I hope that means we high tail it through the swamp though I believe ( I have tried really hard not to pay attention ) we spend one night in it. Now don’t you just wish you had free time in the winter ??…… Margaret if you click on the photos they get bigger-Fishing Bay

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Watching the weather

Why am I writing in our journal today ?~ Because I can. We are still on ground so to speak. The winds slightly less than yesterday –when the sun is out it’s warm enough with 3 layers of clothing on. I had already been practicing since we arrived last week wearing my clothes more days in a row. Not that it’s ever been about my hair-do but now I’ll let the natural oils tame my mane.
It was exactly a year ago today that we took off on our first boat journey south. I was looking back at some photos and we did have a few days with Don in just a t-shirt – We feel better having already done this once but it’s still nerve wracking – the trip down the bay not to be taken lightly – these west winds have actually drawn lots of water out of the Chesapeake Bay. The tides are 2 feet below normal. It was strange today trying to figure out the tide even though a day or 2 ago we knew when the high tide was – it was high tide today and the water mark was where it was last weekend at low tide. This little creek we are in is a trick to get in and out at high tide so low tide being at 6:10 tomorrow morning is not in our favor. Running aground within 30 minutes of our journeys start is not really the tale we want to tell.
Tiller’s been really good for a cat that roamed the golf course all summer to being cooped up and kept on a tether. I wonder if I will be as well behaved ?
Stayed tuned... Margaret

Monday, October 27, 2008

Departure delayed

Getting ready for departure is a lot of work and worry. Everything needs to be cleaned, tested , stowed. We need food and take advantage of having our car to provision the heavier items as once we leave the dock in Healey Cove we will be on foot until spring. The weather needs to be watched and needs to be right. Today was to be the day ~ a north or west wind to take us down the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk~an 8 or 9 hour day. We have worked diligently getting the boat ready but yesterday when Don emptied our water tanks to flush out and provide us with new drinking water, the system stopped working. He struggled all day to figure out and fix the problem. Our friends Bob and Sarah who helped us arrange this time on the dock for which we are eternally grateful - helped and took Don to get a new a water pump - Bob is a great trouble shooter and even he was baffled by a system of hoses and valves that seem way overdone for our small boat.

Meanwhile I worked at the home we had been staying out to thoroughly clean it, move our things to the boat and organize. I was uneasy all day thinking things from the start of the day had not gone as planned. The 7 hours Don worked on the water would have been spent on pulling together all the last minute details.

At 5 PM I arrived at the boat with Tiller and the last of our food - It was cold and raining - when I got aboard they still had the boat torn apart - there was no room for me, the cat or the rest of our provisions. Don was so engrossed in problem solving he lost track of time and the weather report. I felt far from ready - the weather forecast was cold and strong winds. Tension could be felt by all - we had to let go of our plans to leave in the morning. I gratefully boarded "Aequantimitus" Bob and Sarah's warm, organized, Dickerson 36' sailboat to have a glass of wine with Sarah. The heater was on, no tools or parts in sight - just the warmth of friendship. We traded sailing and weather stories - a really nice end to the day.

Today was spent being grateful we weren't out in the gale - the wind has been terribly strong all day - gusts up in the low 40's - now Thursday is the day - tomorrow we will finish little details - we spent all afternoon at the boat getting the little things in place and feeling ready when the wind softens. Don solved the water issue for now - we dreamed this year would be warmer than last but with a high of 53 today and temps in the low 30's tonight - it's not going to be. With 30 knot winds I don't want to think of the wind chill. Well signing off for now - my air card signal comes and goes and I have had to restart this blog a dozen times - one more adjustment to life afloat !.... 7:30 PM - Margaret

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Launch Day

"I come now,at this late juncture of my life, to this sudden relization: I have no destination, no real destination in the literal sense. The destination,the place toward which my life is tending, is the journey itself and not the final resting place. How I get there is more important than whether I arrive, although I will arrive, and what I must try to remember, now more than ever, is to listen to the wind, and the wind will tell me what to do." First You Have to Row a Little Boat by Richard Bode
I stand corrected- our boat weighs
22,000 lbs. Yesterday was launch day and once in the water we moved the boat to Healey Creek off the Piankatank River. The boat yard we were in was at the mouth of the Rappahanock River - We had to sail ( motor sail ) out around Stingray point 2 - 3 miles before turning into the Piankatank River. The worst sail I have ever had - no fun at all and already moments of "I want to go home ! " The wind was only blowing 10 - 15 but the waves were five feet high and not very far apart. We had to go straight into the wind and the waves. Heron was pitch polling ~ at times the prop would come out of the water and make a horrible sound. The ower of the waves not to be underestimated. I managed to get below to get my life jacket on and prayed Don would not be pitched out of the the boat ! I was feeling really happy that Tiller was back at the ranch so to speak ( the wonderful home of our friends ) and he wasn't one more thing to think about and keep track of.

Had a wonderful dinner and lots of laughter and great chat with our friends Bob & Angelique "Beachbum" last night. This boating thing is really everything - it's all coming back to me - the fun, the camaraderie and the moments of fear and trepidation. My ears are tuned into the wind, the noaa weather report all important. I'm trying to get used to my Bayside Cottage Rentals work taking forever with my dial up speed - using web mail - watching it grind - but it works and I have email almost wherever we are. Soon I will figure out how to put an email me button on this site - in the meantime my email is (hmmm maybe it's as easy as that ) and Don's email is lacostedm@gwinet We are organizing - and thinking Tuesday will be our taking off day - perhaps Monday - a lot to be done between now and then... Margaret

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Deltaville, VA

Here we are in Deltaville, VA after a 12 hour drive to Arlington - Tiller was just great ! Not too much crying and when we got to my brother Charlie's house he recognized the room he had stayed in before. We kept him out of reach of the 2 dogs and a good time was had by all though our visit was too short. Wonderful to connect with Charlie, Julie, Caitlyn and Luke and too meet Caitlyn's friend Evan. We don't see them often enough. The new patio looks great and we'll hope for some time in the spring on our return trip to help paint and get ready for Caitlyn's graduation party.

So there she is ~ Heron~ all 20,000 lbs of her - today we'll be unloading the car - organizing food, sails, getting ready for tomorrow's launch.

We are very fortunate for the generosity of our friends Mike and Ann who have generously allowed us to stay in their waterfront home here in Deltaville while we get Heron livable. It's a wonderful modern ranch home with deep water dock - beautiful views and generous living space. It's for rent if anyone wants info on that just let us know. A great get-away for 2 to 6 people. Deltaville is a town of about 1,000 I would say - very small town - with 15 boat yards !

We'll leave our car here for Mike and Ann to use when they come east in November and December. A wonderful trade ~ I think we get the better end of the stick ,though if we keep having to visit the auto repair shop ( yes even had to have the car checked out in Arlington ! and today a new battery in Deltaville ! ) that old van may be worth as much as a house !

Had great visit with our friend Greg last night - he's been aboard Argonauta for a month or so getting ready for his journey south. Fun to talk about our start of this journey last fall together. Always fun to see an old friend. Well the new battery is in the car - time to get back to work.... Margaret

We have had a lot of inquiries about how to comment on our posts - you do not need a google password and account - if you click on comments - type your comment in - then fill in the funny looking script as instructed - then you will see the spot where is asks you for your password - just look below that and click on name/url instead and type in your name - that's it !! Then send your comments - just remember they are for all to read !

Monday, October 20, 2008


Tiller is back, we are packed ( almost ) , now we just need to get our car back from the repair garage and we are off ~ leaving our cute little home on the Maine coast , headed to VA by car. We'll stop tomorrow night to see my brother & family in Arlington (Charlie, Julie , Caitlyn and Luke.) Imagine Tiller will yowl all the way - poor little fella. The boat is in Deltaville, VA. We have many friends there including Greg who has already launched Argonauta his 46' Cal and is still in the area. We travelled with Greg for the first few days last year and couldn't keep up so I imagine we'll head solo this time though this time of year on the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) you are hardly alone. It's a steady stream of boaters trying to leave the cold behind.
Packing has felt like some sort of insanity to me. I am no good at it on a good day ~ never know what to bring ~ without a car to load it all into we have food provisions, the printer for my lap top, clothes, electronics and oh so much more all over our living room.
It's a glorious sunny fall day in Maine - though it was 22 degrees this morning ~ we are hopeful our first week in Deltaville will not be the 8" of rain we had last year. Part of me can't wait to get out of Dodge and part of me would like to cozy in for the winter but that's not much of an adventure !
Saturday we had breakfast with friends (Doris and Rod ) who we met in Stuart Fl last winter. The live in Belgrade Lakes , Maine. They sold their boat so will be in Stuart again on land this time. It was fun I just say to reminisce about last winter and to gain information from them about going "around the hook". A trip through the Okeechobee Lake to the western shore of FL , around Miami and back up into the ICW. So the planning begins..... Margaret

Friday, October 17, 2008

Getting ready to go...

Friday October 17th and Tiller, the star of the show, has taken off. Hopefully with it getting dark early he'll come back for supper.

This is our second year of taking our Westsail 32 "Heron" and Tiller our cat ~ down the ICW ( Intra Coastal Waterway ) ~to get out of the cold and to have an adventure.

I find packing extremely stressful partially because closing our business comes at the same time.

We're new to blogging but thought it would be a great way to let friends and family follow us on our journey, know where we are and be able to get in easy touch with us. Assuming we make it through my packing woes we will head out on Monday or Tuesday - determined by the car getting fixed, the house getting bombed for Tiller's unfortunate summer flea problem. WE had hoped to see friends on the way down to Virginia where our boat spent the summer but doesn't seem likely at this point. There have been just too many things to do to be able to plan ahead.

So... more as we go. Margaret