Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Isle of Palms, South Carolina to Norfolk Virginia and Ennismore baby shower

We left Isle of Palms the next morning after getting a few groceries.....enough to hold us over until we reach Whittaker Point which is about 276 miles or 6 days.  There is a courtesy car there so we should be able to hit a Walmart. 

The mornings are getting quite chilly as we head further north.  Even Dexter is feeling it and shivers until the sun warms us.  When we put a sweater on him he does much better. The anchorage that we stayed at the first night after leaving Isle of Palms was very well protected.  There were many fisherman running past us....or we thought they were fisherman but Steve said he didn't see any fishing rods.  Maybe gator hunting?  They seemed to be baiting in the bushes just off shore.  The following morning when we woke up it was 37 degrees F.  We were tempted to turn the boat around and head south.
                  The school bus system here includes water buses as some kids live on islands.
We are in South Carolina now and the ICW is lined with trees that come right to the shoreline.  There is no where to go to shore.
As we get closer to Myrtle Beach, the homes begin to line the waterway.  The closer we get the closer the homes are together with the odd condo in the mix.

It seemed every corner we turned there was a golf course....
......and another golf course....
.....and another golf course.....
The tides here are still pretty big but getting smaller than the 9 feet we have seen previously.

The homes along the water seem to have very similar designs but they are quite large.
We arrived at Myrtle Beach and I was excited to go to shore.  As a kid we came here every March break for years with a number of other families.  The spot where we used to stay was about 19 miles South of where we are now.  Myrtle Beach has grown since I used to come here some 40 years ago.
Pretty sure my parents bought me a t-shirt just like this one.  Some things never change.
The House of Blues was right beside the dock where we stayed.
Getting ready to leave the next morning....I was on
garbage...Steve was disconnecting our power......Dexter stood guard....and trust me....no one had better touch our boat.

When we stayed a Moss Marina in Fort Myers, we heard all about the Big M Casino boat.  They said it used to be at the end of the dock but the owner moved it to Myrtle Beach because it was more profitable there.  We passed right by when we left.  Shortly after, the Big M pulled out and followed us up the ICW until we came to an inlet to the ocean.  They went the ocean route.
Passed by these houses under construction.  We are in North Carolina now.  Many of the homes along the ICW here are built with this same design.  Some don't fill in underneath, others have a garage and a small basement or storage area. 
We pass many inlets so if you wanted to increase your speed and travel up the coast faster you could go outside.  Outside, in rougher water and watching the weather very closely.  It doesn't make sense for us to go outside because we don't travel very fast anyway.  However the inlets make for currents.  Sometimes we are doing 9 knots....sometimes we are doing 5.5 knots.  It depends on the current and which way the tides are flowing. 
Another Looper passed by and called us on the radio.  We had a nice chat with "Bright Angel" as we cruised the waterways.
Passing an area of shrimping.  These boats look well worked......
.......some a bit over worked......

Looking at the docks that are in the south you have to wonder what does something like that cost.  Hundreds of feet of dock.  We passed one under construction and passed dead slow.  The guy that is lower is standing on what looks like plywood on top of Styrofoam floats.
We arrived at our anchorage for the night.  We travelled 10 more miles that we had planned because the anchorage that we had planned on stopping did not give us the protection from the winds they were calling for that night.  It was a long 70 mile day but happy to drop anchor and relax with a drink and take in the surroundings at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
The next day was a short 40 mile day.  It rained most of the day and calling for thunderstorms later in the day.  We got an early start so we would be well secured by the time the thunderstorms hit but they never did hit.  Better to be safe than sunk.

We stayed in a very well protected anchorage just outside a marine base, Hammock Bay.  You can not step on shore anywhere here as this is a restricted area however it is a designated anchorage.  We could hear the gunfire from the boat and we could see the military in their camouflage.

We had the anchor up by 7am the following morning.  There is a swing bridge just past this anchorage.  The military will often close the ICW here because they do training along this part of the waterway and there can be live fire across the waterway.  We made it through the swing bridge which means there is no practice today.  The signs along the water were very visible that there is military action here.

Heading to Whittaker Point for a Walmart fix.  The winds are supposed to kick up for the next few days. Passing this house and wondering.....does Mary K live here.
Lots on ICW for sale $199,000 and another $50,000...at least that's my guess.... for the dock.

This military boat passed us as we were approaching Moorhead.  They passed us then turned around and passed us again then head out toward the ocean.

We arrived at Whittaker Point Marina.  It was later in the day so we tied up and had something to eat and relaxed for the rest of the evening.  We arrived here on Wednesday April 13th.  Checking the winds, it didn't look like we were going to be able to leave until Monday April 18th.  That's a problem.

April, our daughter is planning baby shower for our oldest daughter, Sarah on Saturday April 23rd.  I am very excited to be going home to attend the shower.  I have a flight booked out of Norfolk Virginia at 6:30am Thursday April 21st.  Norfolk is 180 miles from here.  We can't do that in 3 days because there are swing bridges and locks that only operate at certain times.  I will get there if we have to rent a car to get me to the airport.  For now we have the courtesy car booked for 2pm the following day.

Woke up the next morning and the wind didn't seem to bad.  We decided to go 50 miles to Dowry Creek Marina.  We cast off from Whittaker Point but not until 11am.  We weren't planning on leaving and didn't really decide to leave until about 10:45.  Sure enough once we got underway....about 4 hours in.....the winds picked up.  We had to travel over 2 sounds which are open to the ocean and can kick up.  We had 4 - 5 foot seas in the sounds.  We were safe but very uncomfortable crossing the sounds.

We arrived at Dowry Creek....so glad to arrive in Dowry Creek...... just in time for pot luck.  They said don't bring anything we have lots of food.  Just bring a drink.  Are you kidding me!  What a great welcome and after that day we'll be taking a couple of drinks. 

They had these bottle trees around the Marina.  This one had little airplane bottles.
....and this one had larger bottles
We still needed groceries because we didn't get to Walmart at Whittaker Point.  Dowry Creek also had a courtesy car so we were able to get groceries.  There was no Walmart here but there was a huge grocery store very close by.  We have used many courtesy cars on this adventure.  Never have we taken a vehicle that didn't have the check engine light on.
Oh that wasn't all...don't get me wrong we really appreciate these vehicles.....the windows didn't go down....the key would come out at any position so you had to make sure the key was off when you got out otherwise you would drain the battery.......the shifter said neutral but we were going forward.
Before we leave the parking lot with these vehicles we always do a little check to make sure the brakes work. 

Just as we were approaching the Marina on the way back there were 2 deer that crossed our paths.  We were told to watch for bear as well but we didn't see any.  

To get to Norfolk Virginia, where I will catch my flight home, we have to pass a fairly large sound that can kick up to 6 - 8 foot waves for 35 miles.  Norfolk is 130 miles from Dowry Creek.  We have 30 miles in protected water before we hit the sound.  We are seeing a weather window to cross the sound on Monday so we stayed at Dowry Creek for 3 nights then head to an anchorage closer to the sound on Sunday.  We were with 3 other boats.  It was a very windy day but we were protected the whole way in narrow parts of the ICW.  We arrived at a very well protected anchorage where the water was flat calm.
The next morning there was very little wind.  We were up at first light and there was a slight fog on the water.  With the sun rising in the background it made for a few beautiful pictures.

We are now just 55 miles from Norfolk at Elizabeth City.
We are about to enter what is named "The Dismal Swamp".  It is approx. 40 miles and is very similar to what we call the ditch at home.  The ditch at home is the piece of waterway on the Trent Severn Waterway that connects Balsam Lake to Canal Lake.

A couple of homes along the coast of the Dismal Swamp.

There are 2 locks to pass through along the dismal swamp.  They do not open on demand, they only open at 8:30, 11:00, 1:30 and 3:30.

We travelled over 70 miles this day so we didn't make the last lock at 3:30.  We were there about 20 minutes late but we were ready to stop after starting at first light that morning.  We were with another Canadian boat "Aventures".   If you look closely you will see there are no docks where we tie.  There was no getting off the boat.  Dexter is getting very good at not getting to shore.  The bow of the boat is his bathroom here.  We just open the door and he will go out on his own.  He doesn't like it when we go with him.
The following morning was very leisurely.  We had to wait for the 8:30 opening so we had a nice breakfast and were ready to go about the same time the lock was ready.  We were also joined by 3 other boats.  We were 5 boats in the lock, 4 of which were Canadian!
The lockmasters dog, Lucy.  Lucy and Dexter had a barking match then Lucy just walked away.

Out of the lock and heading further North.  It is so narrow here.
There is a welcome centre along the Dismal Swamp where you can tie and go to shore to check it out.  It is also a National Park. 
There is another welcome centre across the river that is right beside a highway so there are many cars stopped here to check it out.
The water along the Dismal Swamp is very brackish which is a mixture of salt and fresh water.  That tends to make the colour of the water a coffee colour.
Entering Virginia!
This guy wants a title....Swamp Commander it is!
We came across these Canadian Geese.  They followed us for a few miles.  They would fly in front of us then land.  Once we caught up to them they would take off again.....showing us the way home.

Pretty sure the superintendent doesn't still live here....maybe at one time or maybe a joke?
There are stops along the Dismal Swamp where you can tie up for the night.  This looks like a great stop with washrooms.  We decided to carry on cruising.....I've got a plane to catch!
Ugh oh....we came upon a working raft that we needed to pass on this very narrow channel.  They radioed us and said they would pull over until we were safely by.  Very nice of them.  We chatted and thanked them as Dexter barked at them on the way by.
We arrived at the second lock at about 12:30pm, 1 hour before the next lockage.  There is a bridge just before the lock that opens in conjunction with the lock.  The lockmaster said he would let us through the bridge because there was a spot to tie between the bridge and the lock.  Otherwise we would have to float mid channel for an hour. 
Waiting for 1:30 tied up with the other boats.

A little history of the Dismal Swamp
The lockmaster here was quite a character.  He gave us many tips of where to eat, where to drink, what to do when we arrive in Norfolk.  Many boaters that travel south every year know him and will bring him back a conch shell from their travels.  You can see his garden is lined with them.

He gave us a little demonstration of how you can blow a conch shell like a horn.  It was very loud and sounded like a fog horn.
Arriving in Norfolk.

  There is a huge shipyard here as there is an inlet to the ocean just outside the Chesapeake.
......also many bridges
The military presence here is huge.  Once past the shipyard there were many military boats.  This looks like a small aircraft carrier.
A navy police boat, watching guard.  Notice the gun on the bow of the boat.
More military ships.

This is the navy hospital ship.
A plethora of military ships.......
......with another navy police boat on guard.
A couple of helicopters flew over head....actually there were more than a couple but only got a shot of two.

This ship pulled out just as we entered Chesapeake Bay and passed by.

We arrived at in Norfolk Virginia, one day ahead of schedule.  Today is Tuesday April 19.  I will fly home on Thursday morning, April 21st.  So excited to see our girls and other family and friends that will attend Sarah's baby shower on Saturday.  Steve will stay back on the boat with Dexter.

Arrived at April and Ken's on Thursday early afternoon.  April and I spent the rest of the day on decorations. The table with a picture for the new arrival.  Everyone will sign a message for him and a photo of him will be in the middle.

The shower is a boating theme.  There are scrolls that everyone will write a piece of advice on and then put their message in the bottle. 

The lifesavers on a string is a game.  You put the lifesaver necklace on and if you say baby, boy or blue you lose your necklace to the person that notices.

The day of preparation went quickly and then before we knew it, it was midnight....could have chatted all night long but we thought we had better go to bed.  Big day the next day, shopping and prepping food. 

Saturday came and I was so excited to see Sarah and our family and friends that we haven't seen in almost a year.  I was surprised how Sarah's belly has grown but she looks so healthy and happy.

Thank you to all that showed up to support Sarah, Louie and ......???.....not sure what his name will be.  Sarah and Louie know but they aren't sharing.

Diesel loved the presents too!  Front row seat.

There was also a candy table where our guests could fill a bag of candy to take when they left.  I filled a very big bag for Steve.

After spending a few days with April and Ken, I left the shower and went back to Sarah and Louie's for the night.  I left their house Sunday afternoon to have a visit with my Mom and Dad and my Sister and her family.  Up early Monday morning and to the airport.  My flight left at 6:30 am.

It wasn't a non stop flight.  I stopped in New York and got an air shot of the City.

The plane was very small but it was a great flight.  I not only had a window seat, I had an aisle seat and I could see right in to the cockpit.
This is a shot of the inter coastal waterway from above.  You can see the small strip of land that separates the ICW from the ocean.
Arrived safely back at the boat at about 11:30 Monday morning, April 25th.  Tomorrow is going to be a windy day so we will stay put and leave here on Wednesday April 27th.  Full speed ahead at 8 knots, heading home, "One Bay at a Time."

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