Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beach Bummin'

This has been a nice break to be here in Fernandina Beach. On Saturday we spent the day walking across the island (Amelia Island) to the beach side. The weather cooperated and we had fun exploring the beach. Some people were swimming but we mostly strolled, until we plunked down and had a nap! On the walk back we went through Egan Creek park, which is a beautiful natural area. Saw a turtle or two but no 'gators. We'll keep looking.

In the evening we had Jock from Unleaded and Don and Maj-Lis from Blue Blazer over to the boat. Jock brought some fresh shrimp that we quickly boiled up. We also picked up some boiled peanuts - a southern treat. We've seen them everywhere but hadn't tried them yet. They were pretty good too. There is a great fresh fish store right on the water here so we have been having something from there every day. The shrimp, swordfish and grouper have all been mmmm!

Today has been rather stormy. Laundry was done and then we got soaked coming back. So inside some good boat schooling went on and we even had a quiet family reading time. A very rare event so far. Hopefully more to come.

Friday, November 28, 2008

To Florida, to Florida, got to get to Florida

Nov 25-28, Georgia to Florida
We're here in Fernandina Beach, Florida. It is only 2 miles from the border of Georgia, but we have that "I can't believe we made it here" feeling.
Tuesday, the day we left Walberg Creek in Georgia,was one of timing our travels to the tides. The waterway in Georgia is known for some very shallow water, and while our keel is not as deep as some boats, because it is a wing keel, if we do run aground we can't power off the way you can with a fin shaped keel so we are almost as fearful of the shallow water as the deep draft boats. Our route that day had two sections where the water at low tide would mean trouble for us. One was early on and the next was in about thirty miles. High tide was around daybreak so that was great for the early trouble spot but that had us arriving at the next trouble spot almost at low tide. Just before we were to head into the shallow area, a power boat that had been anchored in the same spot as us the last couple of nights, went on and was kind enough to radio back to us the depths they were finding. That helped us decide to turn off and anchor in the mouth of a nearby river, have lunch, do some boat schooling, have a wee nap, then with a couple hours of daylight left, we pulled up the anchor and travelled the last fifteen miles of our route with plenty of water. We anchored for the night in a creek called Wally's Leg, once again nearby our power boat guardian angel.
On Wednesday, our destination was Jekyll Island, which was only 20 miles away, but again would not be accessible according to the guidebooks if we arrived at low tide. So another early start had us arriving at our destination mid morning. We pulled into the marina there only to find half the "Canadian Fleet", a group of seven boats from Port Stanley, Ontario. We had met some of them a few times on the way so it was nice to see familiar faces. We wanted to take advantage of the day there, so we headed out to explore as soon as we could. Just before we headed out we did check the internet and were really surprised to find a note on the blog comments from Lynn Gerrard who said she had just returned from a vacation on Jekyll Island. Wow! How surprised we would have been if we had been there a week or so earlier and run into her. We hiked to the other side of the island so we could explore the beach. Great shells and some facinating formations in the sand formed by the tides that kept Christopher's attention for quite a while.
We were torn between staying longer on Jekyll Island and feeling the pull of Florida being so close. I think the cold weather of the past while and some really long days made us feel if we could just get to Florida we'd be warmer (even though we knew they had been having the same weather). I think it was the psychological pull of being able to say "we're here now, now we can rest for a day or two" that got us going early Thanksgiving morning. Leaving the dock was a trick. We had large boats close in front of us and behind us on the long dock and a swift current going by. Dave and I were discussing all our options for maneuvering out of there unscathed when the fellow who worked there came by and told us exactly what to do and that he would handle all the lines. Worked like a charm and before you knew it we were on our way.
We arrived in Fernandina Beach right around lunch time, just in time for huge free Thanksgiving lunch put on by the Methodist church. I don't know when we've seen so much food. And welcoming, there were lots of people there including most of the boaters anchored, moored or docked in the harbour. We have decided to stay here for a few days. The weather has warmed up (apparently the cold weather is returning on Monday), and besides being a very pretty little town (the shops remind us of Niagara-on -the Lake), there are train tracks with a train running to some industries here which means this is a good stop for Christopher after a recent drought in train sightings. We are enjoying waking up after sun up, until we move on and go back to rising to the 5:30 alarm. The warmer temperatures mean the dingy is more robust which of course has Dave smiling (thank you to all who sent their sympathies over his cold dinghy woes).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Georgia on my mind!

Nov 24
It has been a week without internet access and so now we are trying to catch up. Here is what is up with this sea faring family.
Woo hoo! Today we slipped into Georgia! We put in a 54 mile day dodging shoals by the dozen. This last few days have taken every ounce of navigation skill we could muster. The intricacies and the inaccuracies of the charts in this area have made for an exhausting and sometimes hair raising experience. Believe it or not I think I did lose a few more hairs, so I hope you can recognize me when we come home. Shirley says it looks fine but I am keeping my hat on. Our journey today took us across the Savannah River, which is the border into Georgia. Later we went through Hell's Gate, which was one of those, well, hellish spots. We saw someone else go aground there, which is always good for those approaching because we now know that is a bad spot. We were lucky and saw a local larger boat go through and we locked our human radar on him. As we scooted along through some peaceful spots we were treated to dolphins that came up and swam right in our stern wake, just about touching the boat. Christopher's comment was "Oooh, oooh! ooOOOH!"Pretty cool. We continued on and now have anchored on the edge of St. Catherines Sound just off of St. Catherines Island in Walburg Creek (for all those following on Google Earth). We dropped the anchor as close as we could to a house in the hope they had a wifi router. And Presto! Here we are. The connection is slow and we will try to load pictures when we can.

Honey, lets get a boat and go south – it’ll be warm!

Nov 22 To Bull River
The cold snap continues. Shirley has now reconfigured her outfit for the day and has compiled a fashionable ensemble comprising of eight layers. From a distance it has a certain style to be admired. But what luck – the driving winds that were still sucking the heat out of every orifice were forecasted to die down. So with a total of 21 layers of family clothing (most of which was also on yesterday) we launched into a new day of the journey. By noon the winds had died down and it began to feel seductively pleasant. Shirley even took a glove off and showed a bit of wrist skin. By late in the day the sun was still brilliant, there was no wind and we pulled into a secluded anchorage on the Bull River. As soon as we had dropped the anchor we spotted a bunch of dolphins splashing around, doing what dolphins do to keep warm. A number of times they came quite close to the boat. Sitting in the cockpit, feet up, knocking back a coke and eating a cracker with a free ‘Marineland’ show going on. Great way to end a day on the water.

Getting colder!

To Graham creek - shrinkage
Nov 20
It has been a bit embarassing lately with this extended cold snap because my dinghy has shrunk a bit. With this cold weather it just can’t keep up its regular, robust self and, well you know, shrinkage happens. We could work on firming it up but then if it got warm fast there is no telling what would happen. So we are living with a dinghy with wrinkles. That’s the down side of the cold. On the upside we are living a carefree food lifestyle. Nothing is spoiling. We leave things out of the fridge and can walk away without worry. In addition no flies are around to land on it. Doesn’t get any better than that! And we are saving a bundle on sunscreen!

A grunt of a day – passing through Charelston SC
Nov 21
Up early to depart Graham Creek and already the winds have picked up. And these winds are carrying fewer degees of warmth than yesterday. On these days with lots of cold and wind as well as a need to attend to tricky navigation, Christopher heads “downstairs” to the shelter of the cabin and works away on the computer. Once set to task he sticks to it and then has some “relaxing time” to click away at whatever he wants to. He pops up now and then when something interesting is going on. Like when we hit bottom and got stuck at about 9:30am. Real stuck, and towboatUS had to ride to the rescue again. Pretty yucky being stuck with 30 mph cold winds battering you the whole time. The towboat guy drove up with a ski mask on. We never did know who he was.
Then it was to the Ben Sawyer Bridge and hope it would open. The bridge tender said if the winds are up she can’t open, but if we want to wait she’ll open in a lull. Luckily there was one and we and 5 other boats scooted through and into Charleston Harbor. With the wind blowing like this the harbor was rocking and now salt water was spraying over the deck to add the the ambiance of icyness. We pushed passed Charelston and headed up the Wapoo river. Wahoo! After a cold hard day of being beaten up by the wind and hitting the ground we deaked into a marina for the night. There we met a couple of boats from Port Stanley ON. This was a hit with Christopher because he goes there to see trains in the summer. Warm fuzzies all around as we plugged in our power cord and turned on the portable heater.

Into South Carolina

Myrtle Beach revisited
Nov 17-18
Along with getting to experiencve many new places Chirstopher is also very interested in seeing places he has been to before. Myrtle Beach is one of these key stops along the way. On March Break 2007 we drove here with Grandma and Grandpa to have a fun holiday. When we arrived we were greated by some of the coldest weather in a long time. Our first time below freezing at night!! Here we rented a car and tore up the town! Of course our main stops were the spots we had been to before. The highlight was the great Aquarium here. Huge sharks swim over your head, you get to touch the rays and crabs and all the other displays are amazing.
This was followed by an icy stroll on the beach, a visit to our old hotel, a filling buffet lunch at one of the many restaurants, and then a rousing game of twilight mini-golf with golf mitts on. That kind of made the visit here complete. We returned the car at 8am the next morning, started the boat’s cold engine and were off again.

Wacama River
Nov 19
After the glitz of Myrtle Beach we found ourselves in a spectacular stretch of river. With deep water the navigation was easy and the shoreline ws draped with moss hanging from the branches of cyprus trees. We expected to see aligators at each turn but none were there. After a pretty long day of travel we dropped our anchor in a little spot called Prince Creek. Sitting here as the sun went down we could hear and watch all kinds of birds. There were no other sounds, and we were the only people around. Once the sun went down a variety of owls started their calls. Quite a cool place of solitude, in the company of wildlife.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Surf City here we come!

Nov 14-15
We woke up to a much calmer day – but couldn’t see anything. Thick fog had come in. We got everything ready to go, thinkig it would break up as the sun grew higher, but no. So we did the next best thing and went to the local coffee place for a latte! The fog seemed to clear and return a few times. Then around 10:30 it had lifted – or so we thought. Off we went thinking we could still make our destination – Surf City! All was going well and then we started to get that sinking-into-the-fog feeling. There were a few other boats around and we could use each other as reference points. Then the others turned off the waterway. Rats! By now we could not see the next channel markers and the channel here is really narrow. Shirley and I got busy on making sure we stayed safe in the channel. She began measuring bearings from the chart and giving them to me at the helm - she even put her glasses on (see picture). I was working hard at trying to make my pupils bigger so that I could take in whatever there was to see ahead. After a stressful time of this “blind navigation” the fog actually started to lift for real and the rest of the journey was a relief. Good thing we took those navigation courses! Luckily this is not a section of the waterway that is used by ships. Although we did have to travel through a marine corps base where they conduct live firing. We heard on the VHF radio that they were holding off until the fog lifted. I guess firing live amo into an area you can’t see is deemed to be a hazard.
By late afternoon we docked in at Surf City. We spent the whole next day there exploring the beach. The really high winds made for some spectacular waves. And being Surf City we were treated to a large group of surfers doing their thing. The weather was in the mid 70s so hanging out on the beach seemed to be the right thing to do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If you see the boat a rockin'...

Well that was a heck of a night and morning here. Started off pretty good at this anchorage in Swansboro and then in the wee hours the wind and rain started kicking in in a big way. By the time my alarm went off at 5:30 Shirley and I were both awake wondering what this would turn into. It turned into more. With the winds and the very strong tidal current our boat was being blown one way and pushed the other, causing various types of commotion in and around. Usually the boat turns and noses into the wind while at anchor, providing protection for the cockpit with the dodger. This time the current had turned the boat around and the rain was driving straight into the companion way (the door). With this torrent pouring into the boat we had to close everything up tight and hang out. Christopher got to do lots of boat schooling and is working on a presentation about sharks. But the boat does start to get small when you are stuck inside.

Then there was more excitement around lunch. Another boat had broken free from its anchor, while its crew was ashore, and was drifting and blowing aimlessly. A 13,000 lb projectile lose in the river! It hit another boat but they were able to fend it off. Then we saw it start to head towards us. The wind and current combo made it very unpredictable. Alas, to the rescue came the coast guard. They zoomed in, lights flashing, siren going. A couple of them hopped on board, like Roy Rogers off his horse, and they stopped and secured the boat. And then they rode off into the sunset. Who were they anyway? While this was going on a few dolphins came cruising by our boat. Just checking on the commotion I guess.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back to the Ocean side

For the last few weeks we have been quite a distance from the ocean. Today after getting up in the dark to head out with first light, we cruised to the ocean. The dolphins came out to meet us as we got close to Morehead City and made us feel very welcome! West of the city we entered into Bogue Sound. What an incredible stretch of the waterway. We traveled along the strip of water between the mainland and the outer Bogue banks - a thin strip of land protecting us from the main ocean. We had contemplated going outside for this section but the wind was up and the prediction for the next little while is a bit hairy for us new sailors. But I wouldn't want to have missed this section. For much of it, just metres from the boat are a series of small islands of sand, shells and shrubs. On the other side are some fine houses of the not-so-poor folk of NC. Some of the navigation is tricky and we know of a few boats that have run aground along here. With the wind on our beam we had the sail out with the motor and we zipped along quite nicely. The tidal currents are strong here as well and for part of the time they pushed us along and for the last bit they leaned all their watery weight into us. By early afternoon we pulled into an anchorage at Swansboro. There we dinghied over to one of the islands and were amazed at how practically the whole thing seemed to be made of shells - zillions and zillions of them (click on the picture of Christopher to see what the ground is like). Then we scooted over to the town and found a really delightful community there. The quaint shops are fully decked out in their Christmas regalia. Now that we have entered into the zone where palm trees start to be viable I guess we are going to have to get used to seeing Santa and all that goes with him amongst the different shaped greenery! Likely won't take much adjusting.

Remembrance Day

This morning we were still at the marina and so could use the internet to find some Remembrance Day events. Christopher is very interested in this day and focuses on anything we can find. We did our own little two minutes of silence on the boat. Thinking about the wars of past and present and us sitting on this boat in 2008 was very reflective. I felt great gratitude for the sacrifice of the soldiers and their families that has led to our family being free enough to venture off on this adventure. And that we are free to do this in a foreign country is quite remarkable. On our journey so far we have met a soldier on the subway in Washington who had returned from Iraq and some fellow Canadian boaters who had just retired from the Armed Forces. It is people like these who we'd like to thank today while remembering those from the past.

And so we finished with our remembrances and tossed off the dock lines to venture further south, but not much further. We crossed over the Neuse River, which was building to be quite bouncy by then and headed up to a quiet anchorage along Adams Creek. We can sleep well here tonight. Thank you soldiers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Express to Oriental

Sunday, November 9 and Monday November 10

Up with the sun again, this time our aim was to get to Oriental, a city on the Neuse River, a body of water that has a reputation that rivals that of Abermarle Sound if the winds are not just right. The forecast sounded like the morning would be fine and by afternoon we might see why it has the reputation. So we headed down the Pungo River across the Pamlico River to Goose Creek (these 'creeks' down here look more like rivers than what we are used to calling creeks). This led to another canal that brought us out to the Bay River. Just as we emerged from the canal there were a bunch of dolphins there to greet us. One even went right under Tiffany Rose! The guidebooks said that we'd begin to see on the Bay River if the Neuse River was going to be a problem and all was calm. We turned on to the Neuse River with 18 miles to go, and about halfway down the winds started to show us how the river might be on a not so favourable day. For the first time we had reserved a slip ahead of time at a marina, as we had read that is a popular stopping spot with not too many anchoring locations. From the sound of the VHF radio chatter it sounded like all the marinas in Oriental were busy.

At Whittaker Creek marina the dockmaster was very accommodating. We needed fuel and to pump out and we were given a slip on the other side of the fuel dock so we only had to dock once. We're getting the hang of these docks with pilings but on approach it can get your heart racing! We sure will look forward to landing at those friendly floating docks up north again next summer!

Being at a marina means power, showers, laundry and when the wind shifted, internet access!

We walked to the grocery store and got a lift back with a man who had crossed the Atlantic four times, had ducked in here a few years ago to escape a hurricane and never left.

Today, we got some boat maintenance chores done, then were offered a lift into town. Quite an interesting little town. I think the population is about 900 people and the number of boats are 2700. At the marina in town we ran into a number of people that we had spent time with in Elizabeth City. We also met a family from Midland, Ontario travelling with three (maybe four) children. We met them because the boy was wearing his life jacket in the store and Christopher was telling him that wasn't one of our life jacket rules! A great conversation starter. Nice to see another family travelling. We ran into the same gentleman who drove us into town on the way back so he was kind enough to offer again. He had just arrived in town because he bought a boat that's at this marina. Right now we're pouring over the charts and guidebooks, checking the long range weather forecast to make our next plan.

Changing geography in NC

With the time change we are adjusting our travelling to take advantage of the light when it is there. So now we are getting up before 5:30 so that we can be pulling up the anchor just after the sun comes up. A late night now is anything after 10pm.
This morning we continued on in to the Alligator River Canal. You’d think another canal would be boring but it allows us to see up close by the life along the shore. What we are really noticing now is the different ecosystem we have entered – a distinctly more southern look and feel. Now we are swatting at mosquitoes again! Along shore the cyprus trees are amongst the swaying tall grasses. The calm waters and warm sunshine also made good conditions for Christopher to go forward on the deck to watch this new world go by.
The canal has many dead head logs floating (that often look like alligators lurking about) and we have to be very diligent in navigating our way through. We came across another sailboat that had hit and ridden up on a submerged stump. He was being pulled off by another boat and it didn’t look good the way the boat had to rock and lean and creak and groan to get off.

By afternoon dark clouds came in, we were out of the canal into bigger water and had the sails out again for a while. With rain threatening we made our way into the protected waters just off of Belhaven NC. Time to launch the dinghy again and head to a town that has an old North Carolina look to it. We did a good walk around and hit a great little ice cream and coffee shop. Great way to end the day before buzzing our way back to Tiffany Rose just before the sun went down.

Across the Sound to Alligator River Nov 7

Woo-hoo! At 6:30AM boats started pulling out of Elizabeth City. It was quite a procession as the sun came up. We were kind of in the middle of the pack as we all headed towards Albermarle Sound. When we started the crossing it was very pleasant – about one foot waves with 10 knot winds, so all the sails were up. We hadn’t had the sails up since Chesapeake Bay so it felt pretty good to have the wind pulling us along. It is quite a large body of water and I guess it must have been pretty nasty while we hung out in Elizabeth City. Navigation was easy today because we had other boats to follow. Just hope they knew where they were going!
As usual, the really great thing about being at the docks here was getting to know more of our fellow travellers. We went out for dinner a few times with these new friends, did laundry together and provided each other with endless boating advice and commentary on the US getting a historically significant new president. Many boaters seem to be fairly liberal but by talking more people are all over the spectrum.
Crossing the Sound led us to the start of the Alligator River. By afternoon the sun was out and the temp was hitting around 70°. Our search for Alligators turned up nothing, and I think we probably saw all there were. Christopher did some good sight seeing with his binoculars as well. We were fortunate to come to a roomy anchorage with peaceful conditions. No getting up in the middle of the night to see if we were still there.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Still here...but gone tomorrow...we think.

November 6,2008
Not much more to tell you today. I mean how many times do you want to hear that we had a shower at the town fitness centre or did laundry? Since yesterday's posting of the harbor web cam our friend Hugh has let us know that he's keeping tabs on us. (Hey I was just looking at it and I saw Dave!) So, with that in mind, I thought I'd suggest checking it out tomorrow. Between 6:45 am and 8:00 am you might see a mass exodus. Or if you check it mid morning you may see all the slips are empty (by mid day, the next batch from the Dismal Swamp will take our places).
The consensus seems to be that tomorrow is the day to move on. This city has been very friendly and accommodating.
Until next time..........

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Still here, great hospitality in Elizabeth City

November 5
We're still here. The wind is blowing like crazy and the rain is pretty steady. We have nine lines attached to the dock and pilings, but sometimes it feels like we're sailing on that "wild roller coaster"day in Chesapeake Bay, it's just that we're not travelling right now. We don't really have any pictures today (I just managed to get on some more Halloween ones and the Dismal Swamp to the last couple of entries) but the harbor has a webcam that you can look at. Tiffany Rose is way down the dock so you really can't see us, but this is where we are.
Of course if you read this in a few days and look there, we won't be there. At least I don't think so. Today there is a gale warning going on, tomorrow things are supposed to get better, but most people are saying that Friday is the day to move on to cross the Abermarle Sound. Now that we're on the Intracoastal Waterway, there will be some times when the weather doesn't matter, but this sound seems to have a reputation.
Anyhow, on to the hospitality here. Yesterday the city put on a wine and cheese event to welcome the boaters. Very nice. They even went out of their way to find a soft drink for Christopher (complete with a lid as requested by the young man).
Today we went to the grocery store about 3 miles away. The store comes to pick you up and they drive you back. Yesterday afternoon, Christopher and I spent a good part of the afternoon at the museum here, which is a history of the development of the area. Christopher seems to really enjoy these museum visits, he is usually the one who is not ready to leave when it is time to go. Right now he has taken Dad over there for a tour while I am writing this in a cafe up the street.
Now that we've posted the webcam address we'll try to go make funny faces at it as often as we can! Bye for now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Great Dismal Swamp to Elizabeth City

November 2nd, 3rd, 4th till............
On Sunday we left Norfolk, with all it's warships and bustle, and following a number of other sailboats headed down the south branch of the Elizabeth River. Went through a number of bridges that were already open but two had to be radioed and waited for. One we waited for at least a half hour so there was a lot of circling and trying not to drift to places you don't want to be. Just before it opened the reason we were waiting became apparent and Christopher was delighted. A train! A 'Norfolk and Southern 'engine to pulling it. "Finally" he said, and he didn't mean the bridge opening. Ever since we had been in the vicinity of Norfolk he had expected to see a 'Norfolk and Southern' engine and there had not been any. Now we could move on.
After the bridge the boat traffic could go two ways, the Virginia Cut or the Dismal Swamp. You have to have a draft of less than 6 feet to go down the Dismal Swamp, and we had been told that if we could do it we should. So we headed off down Deep Creek toward the lock of the Dismal Swamp canal. First of all the lock was a different experience from the ones in the Erie Canal. It only runs four times a day so there were already boats waiting when we got there, but the lock master fit everyone it, with boats rafting up together. After we left the lock it meant 12 or 13 boats were all headed down this narrow canal. "A parade!" exclaimed Christopher. What a difference from Norfolk! The tannins in the water make it brown like tea, not a muddy brown. Apparently bacteria doesn't grow in that environment so historically this water was valued for it's healthful properties. The canal was lined with trees in colour. The day was warm so it smelled like a warm fall day when you are kicking your feet through piles of raked leaves. There's no place to anchor along there and with the short daylight it is too far to complete the canal, so most of this parade stopped at the Dismal Swamp/North Carolina Visitor centre. There is a dock with room for about 4 boats to tie up and then everyone else rafts up to them. By nightfall we were 15 boats rafted together. The visitor centre is also the visitor centre for the highway. Across the canal was a brand new visitor centre for the Dismal Swamp State Park, lots of great information about the swamp. To get there there was a pontoon bridge they put out when no boats are coming.
We were up early Monday as many of the inner boats on the dock wanted to make the first lock opening at the end of the canal, so we all ended up heading out early. A little too early I think, twelve boats arrived at the lock over a hour before it opened! More dancing around in circles, some boats anchored to wait. When we got through the lock the canal eventually opened up to the Pasquotank River. "This is a long swamp" Christopher was commenting. The destination was Elizabeth City. A very welcoming city, it provides 2 nights free dockage to boats. The tradition has been when there are more than 4 boats there there is a wine and cheese party for the boaters put on by the city. So, with about 20 boats there, everybody was looking for it last night, but it didn't happen. We'll let you know if it happens later today! Most people go out to eat to show appreciation to the city for the free dock, so we joined a bunch at a local restaurant and ate the catch of the day, flounder.
Today Christopher and I are at the local library catching up on some school work and this blog. (Having a little trouble getting pictures on right now so may have to put them on another day) Dave is taking advantage of this time to change fuel filters and do some other maintenance jobs that are due. Our next leg of the trip includes crossing the Abermarle Sound, which apparently can range from peaceful to nasty depending on the direction and strength of the wind. The boat docked next to us has done the trip 18 times and they are contemplating waiting until Friday for the conditions to be favourable, so we'll see how long we stay. I'm not sure what will happen later today when the next batch of boats arrives from the Dismal Swamp, because none of yesterday's bunch left today. I hear that during last week's gale warnings there was a lot of rafting up of boats to accommodate everyone. Everyday is a different experience!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween in Hampton then on to Norfolk

October 31 and November 1

Went to bed Thursday night with every intention of heading out to Norfolk in the morning. However, when we woke up in the morning, knowing how much Christopher was looking forward to Halloween we considered our options. Hampton we were now becoming familiar with and the city was very welcoming to boaters. Norfolk we didn't know what to expect. So we stayed another day anchored in Hampton. We spent the day doing the usual 'hey what stuff should we get done done while we're here?' stuff, (like more laundry) but made sure we stopped early enough to be ready for trick or treating. Christopher drew a face on a mini pumpkin created the right atmosphere. A bug and two pirates boarded the dingy and headed for shore. We found out that when a bug is surrounded by two pirates even bugs says "Arrrgh!" At the city dock, a fellow boater we met ( on Kai Ohana - who was going to visit some friends in a nearby neighbourhood encouraged us to head that way. Turned out to be perfect. A friendly neighbourhood and the houses we went to were very welcoming. One bunch even greeted us at the road, all the adults in costume. After "pilaging" about 7 houses, we headed back to the dock and visited with two boats there before heading back to Tiffany Rose to look through the loot that the bug said was very heavy.

Saturday we did head out for Norfolk. All week we had heard on the VHF radio frequent warnings to boaters that warships were leaving the dock and that you had to keep a distance away (Norfolk is a very busy naval centre). So we were expecting a somewhat nervewracking entrance to the city, but I guess Saturday morning is a good time to travel, not one warship came our way and no shots were fired over our bow! We anchored in the water just off of downtown and scooted over to go on a tour of one, the SS Wisconsin. It was huge! Very impressive. Christopher also enjoyed the naval museum that was there as well. Lots of war ship information that he was very interested in. And to top it off it was another sunny T-shirt weather day!