We left Edenton yesterday heading for the Chesapeake on our annual Fall trip. Our trip down the Albemarle reminded me of a note I received on a paper I wrote for a freshman English class in 1957.
"A remarkably good paper, free from your usual signs of incompetence. I wonder by what means, fair or foul that you accomplished this."
I don't know how we accomplished it but we did not run aground, hit a stump, pound into a head sea, get stopped by the Coast Guard (or Marine Police, or Wildlife Officers), snag a crab pot, get caught in a net, negotiate a maze of crab pots( a 12 foot canoe could not get though), get caught by a tornado (or hurricane or Thunderstorm, or snow storm or hail storm) or,in short, all the things that in the past made our trips memorable. This despite the fact, for the first time, leaving for a trip on a Friday, something sailors should never do, especially on a Friday with such an inauspicious date.
(Professor T, quoted above, was a thorough going realist who had a hard time with someone who liked to write about talking animals and the like. I restored his faith in me when he was able to deduct 30 well deserved points on my final exam for spelling mistakes.)
The only eventful thing that happened on the Albemarle (notice I have not said anything about the Pasquotank yet) was a near collision with an airplane. Kay regrettably missed the entertainment as she was below . This home made plane with a pusher prop came at us about 2 feet above the water. At the last moment it pulled up to 56 feet, one inch, and thus cleared our mast. At that point Kay came up, looked at the plane and said "Why is he flying so low?" If she only knew!
The other notable observance was that there were more crab boats on the Albemarle than crab pots. They were running all over the place. Kay said that we saw more boats on this trip than we did in all of other trips combined, and all of them crabbers, doing what I do not know. Maybe it is a Friday thing?
Well we reached the Pasquotank at about 3:00 and made the turn and thereby discovered where all the crab pots we had seen on the Albemarle, on our Spring trip, now are domiciled. Every last one of them was on the Pasquotank. A child could have walked to shore by stepping from float to float. The exception to this was those floats that one crabber was using. They were small cork floats that barely if at all broke the plane of the water. This (I assume) guy belongs in the crabbers Hall of Fame, a truly stunning accomplishment given the competition.
We reached the Elizabeth City Bridge at 5:00 and discovered that it was on restriction and would not open to 5:30. Not a big surprize given the time of day and on a weekday. We are now at anchor about a mile past the bridge at a place I think is called "The Cedars". We will leave at around 11:00 for South Mills on the upper Pasquotank in order to make the 3:00 opening of the lock and thus gain entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal. Normally the lock opens four times a day, but because of the drought and, consequently, low water in Lake Drummond it now only opens at 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
(If you did not receive Peake1 let me know and I will send it to you. My ISP blocks some mail with multiple recipients. The problem is that they will not tell me how many., probably because they use other factors as well.)
We left yesterday, raising the anchor at 11:30, which was a good hour earlier before we needed to. The upper Pasquotank is one of the wildest and prettiest places we have ever been. We certainly were able to appreciate the scenery, as we slowed down to 2 knots as we approached the lock in order not to reach it before it opened at 3:00. Eventually we where overtaken by "Lolligo", a Morgan 45, which had come from the Alligator River. In explaining to them on the radio why we were going so slow ( a necessity since there was no room to pass), we also alerted the lock operator to our 'predicament' and she told us to come ahead. She would open the lock and let us tie up there and wait for the locking at 3:00. A very welcome gesture and one we immediately took advantage of. At South Mills the lock raises you about 12 feet, which is an interesting experience. At least you feel you have accomplished something. If you take the other route to the Chesapeake, The Virginia Cut, the lock at Great Bridge moves you only a foot or two, up or down, leaving you with the feeling of "Much Ado About Nothing".
After exiting the lock we had to wait for the lock operator to (drive down) and open the bridge at South Mills. After clearing the bridge we were on the Dismal Swamp Canal, and shortly thereafter we were tied up at the Visitor Center.
We left the visitor center at 11:50 AM and sped towards the lock at Deep Creek, and as usual arrived there too early so, as before, we slowed down. In fact, we slowed down so much that two canoes passed us! One of them being paddled by young kids. Kind of embarrassing. Of course, as soon as we were at the bridge, which precedes the lock, a strong wind arose blowing us towards the bridge. It always happens. We did clear the bridge at 3:00 headed for the lock, and as soon as we did, the torrential rain started. Not what we hoped for but all went well.
The trip through the dismal swamp canal to reach the lock was not uneventful. The water level was low and consequently we bumped over a dozen times several of them seriously. The canal is only 50 feet wide and the trees lining both sides tend to grow out over the canal. They are regularly trimmed back by the Core of Engineers but had not done so for about 8 months. As a result you not only have to dodge floating debris, such as a floating pig, but you had to dodge the overhanging trees with your mast. Sort of a 3-dimensional maze. The whole thing is made more complicated when you meet another boat. Generally other sailboats understand the problem and make the adjustment accordingly, but power boats rarely recognize the problem with the mast and do not understand why you can not manuever as they would like you to.
We exited the canal into the very misnamed and poorly marked Deep Creek. We planned this to coincide with a rising tide, so that when, as usual, we ran aground, we could float off. We didn't, but close, we draw 4'6" and saw a depth of 4'7". Yow.
Leaving Deep Creek to reach Waterside you have to pass through 5 bridges, three of them railroad bridges which are normally open. We where traveling on Sunday so that the bridges where not on restriction and would open on demand. Sure and I believe in Santa Claus too (well actually I do sort of). All went well until we were near the Jordan Highway Bridge when the torrential rain recommensed. We could not even see the bridge let alone the center span. I called them and requested an opening, hoping that when the center span started to lift I could detect the motion. On the other side of the Jordan Bridge is the Beltline Railroad Bridge. The Jordan Bridge operator responded that he could not honor my request because the Beltline bridge was down with a train on it. Eventually the train cleared and we made it to Waterside where we now sit (in a torrential rain).
When I started writing Peake2 I told Kay that there was not much exciting to write about. She replied "Thank God". Sure enough there have been complaints. "It is more fun when you run aground." "Try falling off the boat again." And the like. Well we did have some excitement this time, but more about that later.
In the way of "every storm has a silver lining", when we were coming into Norfolk in the driving rain, Kay's rain jacket dissolved. Mine survived because, unlike Kay, who was at the helm, I was under the dodger trying to keep a chart book dry as I navigated. Yesterday Kay tried on our only remaining wet suit, one she had not worn for 7 years (on a trip to Bennets Creek with the Edenton Yacht Club), and found my long lost and much prized pipe in her pocket. How it got there, neither of us know, as I never wore that wet suit because it is too small for me, and to my almost certain knowledge Kay does not smoke my pipes.
The trip from Waterside to Salt Ponds was (almost) remarkably easy. No waves, no wind and, of course, no sailing. In fact we have had no travelling wind since we left. We have travelled for 22 hours to get here and have used only 11 gallons of diesel fuel. Remarkable.
Coming out through Hampton Roads we were paralleling for almost an hour (at a distance of about 75 yards on our port) a tug pushing several huge barges. Some time later I heard a tug on channel 16 calling to some idiot
in a sailboat to get out of his way before he ran him down. I turned to make a comment to Kay and saw...(to paraphrase Pogo, as I remember), "We have seen the idiot and the idiot is us." A (very) quick right circle brought us behind him and then onto the other side. I do not know why he changed course or did not use his horn when he did, but in this encounter he was the 800 pound gorilla.
We are at Salt Ponds Marina now and enjoy it greatly. Besides great slips and a great restaurant it has added a diesel repair facility and of all things a Massage Studio.
We had to return home for several days to take care of a medical matter as well as some business. But we are back now in time for our first misadventure. (I can hear the cheers.) Yesterday at 5:00 PM I had a drink of water and started to take a shower. After wetting down, turning off the water, and soaping, I turned on the water and...NOTHING. Surely Kay was playing a joke. I called to her to turn the water pressure back on and...Nothing. It turns out that the water pump had picked that particular moment to fail. Who says boats don't have a sense of humor? To get to the water pump you have to disassemble the entire front part of the boat. Even at that it is still a job, because you can't see two of the screws that hold it in place (and even more difficult to install the new one; I did mention before that I carry a spare for everything.) Well the shower was completed at 9:30 PM and dinner at 10:00. We really enjoy boating.
We have done things differently this year, because Kay is on crutches we have to be very careful of the weather. Since there was a Northeast wind blowing, seemingly endlessly, since we arrived here, and that wind generates a nasty chop coming from the direction we wished to point Spindrift, in port we stayed. Today was a different story...light easterlys, and off we went.
Of course, that made for an uneventful trip, at least, until it became time to anchor. We picked Sarah Creek because we knew the sister of a friend off ours and her husband live on a boat here (and also we have never been on the York before.) We hope to contact them tomorrow.
"Spindrift give the anchor time to grab"
"Spindrift back down on it now"
All heard on the VHF while we set and reset and reset... the anchor.
Sometimes things just don't work out. For some reason, all the boats in the overcrowded anchorage where lying bow to the wind while Spindrift obstinately wanted to lie stern to the wind, which meant that the anchor rope was fouling the keel. Arrgh! Eventually, as is always the case, things resolved themselves and we settled down to pre dinner cocktails. The next special event occurred while attempting to cook the spare ribs for dinner on the rail mounted (*over the water*) propane grill. Just as a boat load of people went by waving at us, and just as I was turning the knob on the propane flow control, which is attached at one end to the portable propane bottle, and at the other end to the aerator, which in turn is connected to the feeder tube from which the grill cover was hanging, and which, up until that exact moment, was connected to the bottom of the grill. It fell. I lunged over the rail. I caught it. At that moment Kay realised she was in danger of loosing: Propane Cylinder, Control valve, Aerator, Cover, Feeder Tube and Husband to Sarah Creek. She rescued them in order of importance.
All of which reminds me of a cat named or more precisely, (I assume), renamed "Splash". While at Salt Ponds we where next to a pirate ship looking Downeaster named, logically enough, "Sea Pirate" belonging to the live aboards, Les and Bonnie. They showed their individualism by defying the practice of the "Snow Birds", who in droves go South in the winter and North in the summer. They were returning North for the winter to their home port of Urbana on the Rappahannock River from Marathon Florida. We learned from them the high cost of Marina living in that area of Florida (near th Keys.) They said that you could easily pay $1500 a month in a not so nice marina for a slip. They paid $600 a month for a slip without water and electricity. Wow! Don't think we will be going there.
Bonnie and Les had two animals aboard one being a Chinese Crested dog which sort of looked like a cross between a Chihuahua and a Miniature Poodle. They also had the aforementioned cat named "Splash". Splash had the habit of falling into the water, which I am sure surprizes no one given the name. One morning they arose to a muted mewing which produced for them a fruitless search of the boat for the cat. Splash was finally located clinging to the outboard rudder. Splash had other entertaining qualities, once he climbed two thirds of the way up the roller furling. One can only imagine what would have happened if they had not noticed him and unfurled the Jib? They never did say how they got him down, in my experience cats like to go up but rarely want to come down. We had a Maine Coon Cat named Remington Steele. Remington would climb high up in a tree and then freeze, mewing for help. When our son Chris would climb up to rescue him, Remington would jump.
Not related to this trip, but there is a good story about the cat named Remington. Remington was a poor example of a Maine Coon Cat (we know because we also had one that was a good example.) He defined the term "Scaredy Cat". He was afraid of everything. Which is why we were surprised when neighbors started complaining about him "beating up" on their cats. One day I found him dead beside the road. It certainly was him since besides the matching markings he had a Bot Fly scar on his right hip. We called the kids who came home from their friends and we then buried Remington. About six hours later I heard a noise at the back door and there was Remington hanging from the screen! Yes we had seen the movie "Pet Semetary" at the time and it was with some trepidation that we opened the grave and ...............thankfully found the other Remington.
As I write this we are listening to Carol King.
We set out yesterday in our dinghy to visit with the sister (and her husband) of Conner Atkeson, a long time friend and fellow sailor (and also a recipient of these messages). Their boat a Colvin 41 steel ketch was "on the hard" at nearby (or so we thought) Jordan Marine. The problem was that we use an electric motor on our dinghy and we had no idea of its range using a lawn tractor size gel cell battery. We had only used it once before and then only to circle our boat a few times. I used my plotting GPS, and an educated, but erroneous, guess at Jordan Marines location on Sarah Creek, and estimated that we had only a half mile to go. It turned out that it was more like a mile. We arrived in just a few minutes and had a nice visit with Betty and George, however, all four of us where concerned that the dinghy's battery would not make it back to our boat. The situation was complicated because we would be going against an incoming tide, but thankfully there was no adverse wind, in fact, no wind at all. After the visit Kay and I and 48 pounds of ice set off for Spindrift. At first all went well. But as we travelled we steadily lost speed, which was not bad since we enjoyed the scenery. About half way back the wind came up on our bow and built steadily, and it stopped, not the motor but the boat, at best the motor could hold us in place. Soft bottom inflatable dinghys do not row well and you might remember that on our earlier Pamlico trip we had lost our rowing seat, and, to make matters worse, we were now facing an adverse current and wind. We solved the problem by having Kay sit facing backwards on the port tube and row the port oar in the usual fashion (pulling) while I sat on the starboard tube facing forward and rowed by pushing the oar blade backwards. It worked well and eventually Kay and I and 30 pounds of ice reached the boat.
I should have anticipated the wind. It was late in the afternoon and we were travelling roughly west to east. In times of good weather, I long ago noticed that, the stern of the boat always faces the Sun in the morning and then again in the evening. This is very noticeable to me because those are the times I write these messages and the Sun is always in my face (or on the computer screen if I sit facing forward.) Very annoying. I think this occurs for the same reason (differential heating) that you have an onshore wind at the ocean shore in the morning (and an offshore wind in the evening.) Thus an East to West wind should have been expected. Oh well, I suppose it is trite to say so but 'live and learn'.
The harbor here was created by sinking nine surplus ferro-cement Liberty ships in 1950. We first heard of this place from Bob Hurd ( also a recipient of these messages) who we met several years ago at the Alligator River Marina. This was the terminus of the cross Bay ferry which predated the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. All the books say that it is difficult to see the ships as they blend in with the shore. You have to proceed on faith. The books are not wrong on this. I made out the ships before Kay. In fact, for a long time, she could not make them out at all and the reason is interesting. The ships are placed end to end and since the ends are not vertical there is a triangular shaped gap at the bottom which she was seeing as a serious of white buoys in front of a solid brown surface. When she realised that they were ships and pointed this out to me I could also see what she had been seeing. It was sort of like an Escher painting.
The trip across the Bay was uneventful. The water was calm and what little wind there was gently encouraged us along from behind. We covered 27.4 nautical miles in 4 hours. Pretty good.
The ease of the crossing caused me to be a little careless with navigation. I pretty much took our heading to be that given by the GPS forgetting about the out going tide. In crossing the Bay you cross a major ship channel and when we got to it there was a major ship a coming. I went below and turned on the radar so that I could track his movement and shortly realised that there would be no problem. At the same time I noticed that I could see the Liberty ship breakwater 8 miles ahead and that it was about 10 degrees off to the left even though our heading was 95 degrees and the GPS said that our target was at 95 degrees.
Of course the problem was that we were pointed at 95 degrees but owing to the tidal flow we were actually moving at 105 degrees. A classic physics problem, I should know better. Once I corrected for this there were no further problems. All of which reminds me of the time in 1976 when two others and I sailed a Westerly 26 to Bermuda. Going over we very carefully took into account the current in the Gulf stream in our navigation and hit Bermuda dead on. Coming back we figured that we couldn't miss North America and were less careful. We were right we didn't miss North America but we did miss North Carolina. That was my first trip to Virginia by boat.
(BTW if anyone can tell me what a Liberty Ship did during WWII I would appreciate it.)
My Birthday. In exactly one year I will qualify for the Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band question. Regrettably two of the Beatles will never get to answer it.
Kiptopeke is really very nice. Protected (by those Liberty Ships which I now know supplied to Britian), sand beaches, elevated wooden nature trails, swimming areas and a Tiki Bar. Too bad we did not get to try any of it. We tried to go in by dinghy, and, of course, our battery for the dinghy motor was dead. But I have another one, that I use for the computer, which I thought would do the trick. I miscalculated. I thought I had only been using it for the four days since we left Salt Ponds but sad to say I had been using it, off and on, for three weeks. I make a lot of mistakes. And yet another. I assumed that since it was nearly high tide the tidal current would be minimal. "Boy" was I wrong. After we cast off I quickly realised that (1) there was a very strong current indeed, (2) the motor had zero chance of besting it, and shortly thereafter (3) as hard as we rowed we could not overcome it.
This is all in the mode of "Fools tread where angels fear to go".
But our angel was looking out for us, even if we were not. Earlier in the day a chartered sailboat "General Gamble" crewed by three gentlemen and two ladies from England arrived and anchored. We remarked that given the huge harbor it was strange that they chose to anchor 150 feet behind us. Thank god. The current, with encouragement from us, carried us right to them. They snagged our line, thankfully, since we would have been swept through the nearby Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and I would have returned to Bermuda, this time in a much smaller boat.
Being lunch time I had vegetables, well actually 3 olives in a marinade of sort.
We really liked Kiptopeke (save the current) and it is especially nice that it is less than three hours from Salt Ponds. Coming back was almost uneventful. The weather was some where between heavy haze and light fog. Visibility was about two miles as we learned when we reached the main shipping channel and out of no where a huge ship materialized near by. The radar showed it to be two miles away, about ten times further than it appeared, and on we went with no further misadventures.
Docking at Salt Ponds can be a challenge because there is only one piling (at the stern) and there is nothing to stop you from being blown into the boat next to you given the wind from the wrong direction, which is what we faced. (This does not have to be a problem since dock hands are available, but since we are considering relocating here we felt we had to give it a try on our own.) The only solution is for me to jump to the floating peer with a line on the midship cleat, assuming that Kay brings me close enough and the boat slow enough at the same time. At 14 a jump of two and a half feet would have been fun, at 41 a risk, now a challenge. I made it though I received a 2 for style points.
One of the more entertaining things that you can do while in a slip is the listen to the computerized voices on the NOAA weather radio. Our favorite was about ten days ago when we listened to the current coordinates of tropical storm "Is Otter". Kay and I looked at each other with puzzled looks for several seconds before we both laughed when recognition occurred to both of us. (I will leave it to you to figure out.) About ten years ago I fooled around with computer voices and even then you could teach the computer how to pronounce words that where troublesome, I can't imagine why NOAA does not do so. Also why does it say "Waves 1 feet building to 2 feet", but "2 feet subsiding to 1 foot"?
We now know what is the true meaning of the term "Brakedown Cruise". About everything that could breakdown did so. You know about the water pump (BTW we have a backup now), but also the head (plugged vent), the grill (the bottom disintegrated), rope hangers (desloved) and most recently our batteries. We use three size 31 AGM batteries and replacing them is just a little less expensive than sending a child through college. Also they are difficult to find. Off we went to West Marine on the (famous) Mercury Boulevard in Hampton. They had one ("It is a high dollar item we only stock one, but we think the Norfolk store has two"). On to 64 and through the dreaded Hampton Tunnel to Military Highway and then Virginia Beach Boulevard. They had one but could tell us the West Marine store in Virginia Beach also had one. (Making three).
"How do I get there?"
"Are you familiar with the area?"
"Well take Virginia Beach Boulevard to Great Neck Road and turn left. A hell of a distance" (And it was)
Three and a half hours later and almost $1000 dollars less we had our three size 31 AGM batteries. (To further complicate things, the batteries are to heavy for me to lift and I had to hire someone to remove the old ones and put in place the new ones. This was somewhat embarrassing when the pretty girl at the Virginia store picked it off the shelf and carried it to the check out counter. At least at the other stores they used a cart.)
We will return home in a couple of days so that I can complete a task and then when finished come back to tour the James river. More then.
I did not expect to send another one of these so soon but a couple of things changed my mind. I started by sending these messages to a list of 36 persons, but some where not receiving them, so I tried two groups of 18, four groups of 9 and then 9 groups of four, but, alas, every time some are lost. Tech support at my SMTP server swears that this can not happen leaving me at sea, so to speak. So I have decided to send this via AOL to see if I get more dependable results.
One other event to note. After several weeks in the water we expected that our dinghy bottom would be replete with a colony of barnacles. We pulled the dinghy to clean the bottom and there where barnacles, of course, but you would never know it, because the entire bottom was covered with a revolting gelatinous carpet 3 to 4 inches thick. It looked like thick clusters of aquatic eggs. We have been up here 6 or 7 times and we have never seen this before. I am told that they are called "Sea Grapes", and it is no wonder that we had motor/battery problems. I am surprised that we moved at all. (Added Note Fri, Oct 11, 2002 : What ever it was it was not Sea Grapes. I am still trying to determine what it was. Thu, Oct 17, 2002 : With the help of Chuck Bland I think we have identified the Incredible Gunk on the bottom of the dinghy. It looks very much like this, except that ours was a uniform greenish brown. Chuck tells me that it is a Bryozoan(moss animal). That is enough biology for me.)
It was a 'Dark and Stormy Night', (I always wanted to say that), well it actually was 3 nights ago when we returned to Spindrift at Salt Ponds. Pretty much the same thing could be said about the next day and night. However yesterday was close to perfect so we set out for the Nansemond, which joins the James River and later the Elizabeth to form the huge Norfolk Harbor. Actually, before I 'discovered' the Nansemond in our Chesapeake Guide yesterday Morning I had never heard of it before. It is a large river and given its location rather undeveloped. There seems to me almost no development along the northern shore and limited development on the southern shore. Despite being the river that serves Suffolk it has very little traffic and is a nice place to visit. The most notable feature are two homes mounted on stilts right on the river. They where apparently used to guard private oyster beds but are now used as vacation homes.
In getting here we finally crossed the Monitor and Merrimac Tunnel, which is the tunnel we now use to travel from Greenville to Salt Ponds, and is the last of the four area tunnels for us to have crossed. It is also the most recent to open, opening in 1992 after our first trip to the Chesapeake in 1991. Our actual plan for this trip was to go up the (nearby) James River. So what stopped it? A parenthetical comment that is what stopped us. When we don't use the Monitor and Merrimac we use the James River Bridge. It is a busy bridge connecting Newport News with (eventually) Suffolk. The bridge is listed on the chart as having 60 foot clearance which is rather low to start with, 65 feet being the norm. But still with a mast highth of 56 feet we should have no problem, right? Well our Chesapeake guide says parenthetically that "local knowledge says that is as much as 10 feet lower" than the stated 60 feet. Now even that should not be a problem since, other than at rush hour, it opens on demand. What worries me is the potential conversation with the bridge operator.
Sandwiched between the Northern terminus of the infamous Hampton Bridge Tunnel and the city of Hampton there is a great anchorage. On the Hampton side there is the Chamberlin Hotel a dominating feature and famous for its Sunday brunches. Regrettably it is not Sunday. The trip here from the Nanesmond was uneventful and we anchored at 3:00 PM on the mark. The only suspense was that on the chart the entrance channel is listed as 11.5 feet wide about the same width as our boat and we have trouble with 90 foot channels. We had no problems and I do not believe the 11.5 feet (on the other hand we have not gotten out yet without misadventure.)
The Guide says there is room for 50 boats here and I believe it, all of which makes me wonder why the "Alcid" decided to anchor on top of us. They also did not bother to set their anchor, just through it overboard. Kay thought I should say something to them, like "You are too *** close", but fearing "Roads rage" I remained silent. Reminds me of an occasion at Cape Lookout when a chartered sailboat anchored on top of us and did not set the anchor. On that occasion I said something to the Captain and she replied that she knew how to anchor. At that point Captain and crew got into the dinghy and off to shore they went. No sooner did they arrive at their destination then their anchor broke loose. Kay and I caught the boat and held it until the Captain swam back, raised the (now) useless anchor and motored away without a word. Nor did I speak, but had a hard time keeping a smile off my face.
Something else I wonder about is why Alcid has two full head sails both running from the top of the mast to roller furling drums on the foredeck where they are separated by a mere foot and a half. Tacking the foremost would be a real challenge. There are 13 sailboats here this morning 12 of them undoubtedly "Snowbirds" heading south. When we arrived yesterday there was no wind today it is blowing 15 to 20 from the Northeast. I wish we were heading south as the Bay is going to be very rough.
Anchored nearby are two boats with interesting names. One equipped for Ocean sailing is named "Albatross", that takes a lot of nerve. The other is named "Compass Rose" a pretty clever name and one I had not seen before.
The good news is that when we left the harbor into the Bay it was not blowing 15-20, the bad news was it was blowing 20-27. The stress of making little progress going against a steep head sea ( 4 to 5 feet ) was intensified by an incoming Naval Ship broadcasting warnings to stay away from it or risk (among other things ) "the use of deadly force". We stayed away. It only took us an hour to reach Salt Ponds but it felt like many more. We were one of only four boats ( as distinct from ships) on the lower visible Bay, and all were having trouble. When out of the harbor entrance we had to turn perpendicular to the advancing wave fronts and we rolled and rolled as we progressed. Not dangerous but very uncomfortable. Going into the narrow entrance to Salt Ponds with a strong following sea was something else again. Spindrift has a wide stern and waves and current kept trying to turn us broadside or worse. Being the navigator with nothing to do at the moment I did the only intelligent thing as we approached the rock jetty...and closed my eyes. I opened them when I heard Kay at the helm exhale (did peek once or twice.) Once in we passed the Sperry Star II heading out. We are in slip D11 which is the last slip on D dock. The 63 foot Sperry Star is berthed on the T at the end of the dock and thus our neighbor. Sperry is a high end electronics company making radar and the like for the navy, container ships and large tugs. The boat is the test boat for their products, which is why they went out yesterday. They have a radar that can track a target at 100 miles interfaced with an infrared camera that does the same. I know all this because the Captain came over and introduced himself (he was the one that told us that the waves were 4 to 5 feet). Of course I had to ask him the inevitable question "Do you make the shoes". The answer was they sold off that part of the business 15 years ago! Nice guy.
I usually end these messages with one entitled "DePeake" chronicling our trip back from the Bay to our home port in Edenton. No DePeake this year, we are going to keep our boat here. Of the many reasons for this the most prominent is that the floating docks and wide stable finger piers are very kind to Kay's poor knees. Also we use almost a week of time getting to and returning from here and we could use the week to further "explore" the Bay. One problem with being here is a high boat tax, $1 per $100 of valuation. Because Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach have no boat tax and thus have full marinas, Hampton with a 40% marina vacancy rate is planning, according to yesterday's Hampton Daily Press, to change this to 1/1000000 of 1 cent per $100, effective January 1. I calculate that I will owe .05 cents. A real advantage over the $280 we am currently paying in North Carolina.
As I write this I am listening to the local Public Radio Station money raising event and today is "Pet Pledge Friday". I have been listening as people call in for their pets, the best of which are "Edgar Allan Crow" and "Ben Lama".