We are in a slip and hooked up to shore power! The last time we had shore power and were in a slip was just over four months ago. And it was actually the same marina where we are now – Dowry Creek Marina by Belhaven, NC. If you would have said to me two years ago that it was possible to live on your boat and not be hooked up to shore power for over four months I would have thought you were crazy. I never imagined it would be possible for us to do that. But we just did. We really are pretty self-sufficient in terms of electricity between our engine alternator and solar power and even though we are very conservative in using electricity we pretty much always have what we need. At times we even run our inverter to power laptops and charge things.
We left Mill Creek in Solomon’s this past Saturday, Oct. 12, and did a 60 mile jaunt down to Fishing Bay where we fueled up and spent the night at anchor. Fishing Bay is a very comfortable place to spend the night and it’s always fun to watch the local yacht club holding their small sailboat races out on the bay. The trip down the Chesapeake was quite comfortable with only 1 foot waves or so and light winds – just enough to put the headsail out to motor sail with.
Sunday we left Fishing Bay thinking it would again be a nice sail down to Norfolk. We could not have been more wrong! The winds were only supposed to be 10 – 15 from the north-east and 1 – 2 foot waves. Right! Almost immediately after we made the turn into the Chesapeake and were out of protection from land the wind hit us. It was in the 18 – 22 knot range from the north-east and the waves were 4 – 5 foot with occasional bigger ones. We had to head a ways east to get out into the Bay to head south and they were almost directly on the beam. We quartered them as well as we could but it made for a very comfortable ride. We did put the headsail out to help stabilize the boat and in hindsight we should have put the mainsail out too as that would have helped even more. After about an hour we turned more south which brought the waves from directly behind us which is a very uncomfortable point of sail as well.
After 4 – 5 hours of bouncing and being thrown all over the wind started to abate some and the waves seemed to settle down a bit as we approached Norfolk. We rounded the point into the Norfolk area and slogged the final 10 miles to our anchorage at Hospital Point. Unfortunately we were pushing a current at that point and were only able to go 6.5 – 6.6 knots/hr and it seemed to take forever. But at least it was fun seeing all the huge naval ships as we went by the US Naval Base. Shortly after setting our anchor the rain started so we were grateful to have already arrived. The evening ended up being quite pleasant as the wind died and even though it rained a bit off and on the lights from the Norfolk/Portsmouth area were beautiful.
We lifted anchor the next morning at 7:15 am with a schedule in mind. The first bridge we needed to have raised didn’t open until 8:30 am and it was five miles away. We had heard the anchorage we were at was very muddy and would take a lot to rinse off your anchor chain so we allowed extra time for that. And there were three other railroad bridges before the 8:30 one which could be down if a train were approaching, so we wanted time in case we had to wait for one. Thankfully we had no issues so just slowly worked our way to the 8:30 am opening. We arrived 10 minutes early with four other boats, and to our surprise they opened the bridge early for all of us. Nice! We had another five miles to go to the Great Bridge Lock, where we needed to be by 9:30 am as it is timed with the Great Bridge bridge, which is only a quarter mile farther than the lock, which only opens on the top of every hour. So we again just took our time getting there and had no issues in the lock or getting through the 10:00 am bridge opening. After going through a couple of other bascule bridges we pulled into our anchorage just south of Coinjock at 4:45 pm. We had only gone 53 miles but it took a lot longer because of the locks and bridges we had to go through. It was a very pleasant day with temps in the mid-70,s and pretty much sunny all day.
The anchorage area we stayed at was just off the ICW just before getting into Albemarle Sound. Some of the reviews of the anchorage talked about the nasty flies in the area but as we settled into reading for the evening inside the boat we didn’t see any. However, and this is a HUGE however, when I went out to put the cushions up and get set to go to bed we learned about the files. Literally as I pushed the hatch cover open to go outside it sounded like a massive herd of locusts just above my head. As I looked around and got into the cockpit I had to duck as there were so many green small flies swarming around. Oh my goodness! Sharon stuck her head out and we both were blown away by how many flies had descended on us. We quickly headed back in, needless to say.
The devastation the flies made on the boat is almost indescribable – thankfully only cosmetic. Of course there were a ton of flies still in the cockpit, mainly under the dodger and bimini, but the green and black goo they left was incredible. Even before we dared venture out from inside the boat we had our game plan ready to get going just as quickly as possible. We gathered at the steps inside looking up with our objectives clear in our head and at the word “Go!” we opened the hatch boards, ran up and got the boat going. We first opened up the middle panel of the dodger to hopefully blow some of them out but even at the end of the day we still had a ton of flies still with us.
We ended up going 62 miles directly to Dowry Creek Marina, where we are now, as we knew we could get a slip and use their water to wash the boat down. And even though it was a long day already at that point I still spent over two hours just cleaning the cockpit area. The dinghy, which was totally covered in flies and goo, and the rest of the boat would just have to wait for another day as it was almost dark by that time already.
We gleefully plugged into shore power once we arrived – I actually had to re-think how to do that as there are some toggle switches that are different when not plugged in – and plugged in lights and even our electric coffee maker just because we could!
The next day, Wednesday, was forecasted to be very crummy and it certainly proved to be so. It rained almost all day and the wind was in the mid-20’s to 30 knots for the bulk of the morning and afternoon. The boat bounced around a lot in the marina but we enjoyed not having to worry about our anchor dragging and kept dry and sound inside. We also took the opportunity to get some projects done. Sharon and I changed the engine oil and oil filter and then we changed both fuel filters. Sharon got the courtesy car in the afternoon and did a grocery run while I finished up a couple of other things, such as adding air to our actuator, tightening the alternator belt, defrosting the freezer, etc. It was so nice to be at a spot where we could get all of this done.
Today was a bright, sunny day but the temps only stayed in the mid-60’s. The wind shifted to the west, so it was coming from ahead of the boat instead of from the south as it was the day before, so it was much more comfortable inside the boat. Sharon did a ton of laundry and I checked the steering mechanism to make sure all was good- and it was. Whew! I also spent another couple of hours cleaning the rest of the boat and dinghy. We also filled our water tanks and got a pump out to be ready to leave tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will be going only about 25 miles to Gale Creek for the night. It will be so nice we don’t have to leave so dumb early as it will only take us about three and a half hours. The next day, Saturday, we will head to Cedar Creek, a well-protected anchorage, where we will probably stay for a couple of nights. There is a potential Tropical Storm, Nestor, that is threating to come up the east coast from the Gulf area that will reach us early Sunday morning. Winds are supposed to be in the mid-30’s, so instead of heading on to Beaufort, where the anchorages don’t have as good of holding, we will stay in Cedar Creek where the holding is reported to be very good. After Nestor has passed we will head to Beaufort, a distance of only about 20 miles, and then see once from there. We’ll let you know how it goes!