Gladlee of Guernsey

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America 2009 (Page 2)

 Up to the 4th June ---

We've been to Deltaville and collected the RV (having failed to re-register it) and it is now in Town Creek Marina with Gladlee. One in the Yard and one in the Car Park. We have taken the opportunity to do some work on Gladlee such as polishing the hull, re-doing the woodwork and cleaning the few barnacles off the bottom. At last the yard have removed the defunct engine and we are now just waiting for delivery and installation of our new Yanmar. This will still be about three weeks so we are going to take some time out and go "land cruising".

Gladlee in the yard at Town Creek Marina RV in the car park


4th - 7th June, White Oak River Campground, Maysville, North Carolina.

Just a fairly short trip of about fifty miles but our first real over-nighting (except in a car park) in the RV. Some nice hiking available and we manage to do some before Ron has a resurgence of Arthritis or Gout in his foot. (No not an excuse). We have mains power, water and black and grey waste dump here so all very cosy.

RV with awning out at White Oak River Campsite, Maysville


8th - 9th June, Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area, Virginia.

This is our first shot at free camping. Many of the National Forests and such areas offer free camping if you can find a suitable site. Usually in remote areas it means that no services are provided but with a generator, fridge/freezer etc this offers no problems for us. The rules in this place are totally ambiguous so we don't know if it is allowed or not - but as we don't get thrown out we guess it was OK.


Parked up in Chickahominy WMA

The Chickahominy River

Beautiful area as can be seen from the above photo of the river. Unfortunately one of the first bits of wildlife seen by Julie was this snake. About four foot long and not very friendly. Julie thought she heard rattling but didn't get a photo of its tail so not sure if it was a rattlesnake or not. Needless to say Julie made a very swift return to the safety of the RV.  Subsequently found out that it was a Black Rat Snake. Not poisonous but very aggressive.

Black Rat Snake, aggressive but non-poisonous

Julie on safer footing at the boat landing

10th - 11th June, Schroeder's

A nice drive along the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown and back to Deltaville. We pick up mail and now hope that we can re-visit the Department of Motor Vehicles and register the RV in our name. We are parked up in Schroeder's yard which is where Gladlee will be stored when she eventually gets up here. We have mail from our friends on S/Cat Reach (Mark and Michelle) who are coming up to Deltaville on the 11th and we are invited to dinner onboard. Even as RV'ers we just can't get away from the boating fraternity - thankfully. Eventually DMV are nice to us and the RV is now fully registered in our name and with our own plates. Quite a relief.

12th June, Buena Vista

We had tried to go to another site but found it was full when we arrived so made for this place. Not what we expected. Basically a large field with piped electric and water. However this place is known for hosting various events and has a significant stage area. The one night we are there we pay three dollars and get a couple of hours of live music from we guess the local band - Class Act.

13th - 14th June, Otter Creek (Big Island Campground)

Our campsite on a wet morning

We've been to this site before when we did our trial run a couple of years ago. It's the first campsite on the Blue Ridge Parkway when heading south. Did the same hike but extended it from last time to make a round trip of about five miles on forest trails down to the lake and the James River Visitor Centre.

15th - 16th June, Peaks of Otter

White Tailed Deer Noisy frog

A bit bigger and more organised campsite, again on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are lots of White Tailed Deer around the site, some of which have some very young fawns with them. A nice but fairly short hike round the lake is all we manage here mostly due to the weather. It has so far been fairly wet in the mountains and we are driving at times either in or above the clouds. Out average altitude is about 4000 feet.

17th June, Roanoke Mountain Campsite

Went off the Parkway for a bit of the journey to this site (again on the Parkway). Visited the nearby supermarket in Bedford (North Carolina version), filled up the thirsty beast with petrol, and visited the local hardware superstore to get some outdoor matting we had heard about. Didn't do too much hiking here. The place was however full of American Robins feasting themselves on the two cherry trees nearby our spot.

18th - 20th June, Rocky Knob

Rocky Knob overlook

The weather is starting to get a bit nicer and at least we are not driving through the clouds now.We get back into the hiking again here and our first hike is actually to "Rocky Knob" which is about a mile each way - getting there was of course uphill by about 800 feet. Second day we do a part of the main walk to the "Gorge" but this is classed as a strenuous walk and after about two mile we decide to turn round. The trail has got exceptionally steep so we chicken out. Still, a four mile round trip and fairly strenuous.

21st - 24th June, Comer's Rock, Jefferson National Forest, Iron Mountains.

We have now left the Blue Ridge Parkway and in fact the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed a little further west to the Iron Mountains. These are almost on the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. This is a National Forest Campground with few facilities except garbage collection and a chemical toilet. No water, electricity or waste dump. It is also somewhat off the beaten track. We find the entrance and know that we have about a two mile drive on a gravel road that is not much wider than the RV. After much soul searching we take the plunge and luckily only meet two cars both of which seemed to happen near a suitable passing spot. This place is so remote and difficult for RV's that we finish up as the only people staying there for the whole four days.

Our campsite in the woods

There a a few trails for us to hike and we do about five miles a day sometimes over fairly strenuous tracks.  A nice walk to the nearby lake, a hike up to the overlook and a tough hike down one of the horse trails - and back.

View looking south from Comer's Rock overlook

As you can see the scenery is a bit startling. We are not overburdened by wildlife but what we do find is interesting. Though we don't actually see them we clear up around the trash bins every morning after the Black Bears have trashed the place every night - they really need bear proof bins like they have on the Parkway.

Nest full of babies just by the trail The American Gold Finch

Our last walk here was on the designated "Nature Trail" which was supposed to be about one mile though it seemed further. One of the nicest things was to find the above nest with three young in it. For information the nest is about two maybe three inches in diameter which gives and indication of the size of the chicks.

25th - 27th June, Linville Falls

Linville Falls Slate Coloured Junco

After our departure from the Parkway we have come back to another of its campsites, this one at Linville Falls, a very popular place. First day we hike to the high ground overlooking the river and falls. Second day we take the strenuous hike down to the river just below the falls. We take a picnic lunch for this and thoroughly enjoy sitting on the big rocks by the river. It's time to leave the Parkway and the mountains though as we need to get back to check on Gladlee. No phones or internet up here so we have no idea.

28th June, Walmart, Clinton

We drive about 280 miles and do what many RV'ers do - park overnight in a Walmart car park. Walmart are one of the big stores here that have no objection to this and it is a fairly common thing to see RV's parked in various Walmarts. Luckily they are just about everywhere. This one however is not one of the best and we have a fairly noisy night of things. We'll try another one again later.

29th June - 1st July, Town Creek Marina

Back to the marina to find that Gladlee will not be ready as forecast. We had been told that everything should be done by the 4th July weekend but this is not to be. We now believe all should be done by the 10th - hopefully. We are back parked in the marina car park but at least have electricity and water. It is so much hotter here than in the mountains. About 10 deg C difference.

2nd - 5th July, Oyster Point, Croatan National Forest

Golden Silk Spider (Actual size)

Blue Heron in Flight

It's 4th July weekend coming up and the Marina is going to be hectic so we decide to get out of the way and find a remote campground in the Croatan National Forest only about 15 miles away. We manage a bit of hiking - only one trail available but still better than being in the hustle and bustle of the marina.

6th - 10th Town Creek Marina

We return to the marina and work is underway to get us finished as soon as possible. We have now been given a definite date of the 13th July so we make plans to take the RV back to Deltaville to await Gladlee's return. We should have known better - 13th??? - The engine is in and working like a dream. So what could be the problem now you might ask. No-one had realised that the Volvo and Yanmar engines rotated in a different direction making our propeller obsolete. Put the boat in forward and it goes backwards!! Unfortunately you can't just say well put it in reverse and go forward as the ratio's on the gears are different. The yard is now trying to find us a new prop.

11th July Deltaville

We still head up to Deltaville as the yard are confident of getting a new prop even though ours needs a 25mm bore and not the usual 1 inch (25.4mm). Easy drive up there and on the way back we have decided to take a different route and go down what is called the Outer Banks - Cape Hatteras. This means we have two car ferry rides to undertake. One is a free ferry from Hatteras town to Ocracoke Island, a trip of about 45 minutes. The second we have previously reserved as it gets busy. This is from Ocracoke Island back to the mainland about 35 miles from Beaufort. This ferry trip is 2.5 hours at a cost of US$ 15 for car and all passengers. Thanks for the subsidy North Carolina State Government. This was a great decision and we thoroughly enjoy the trip back.

12th - 16th Town Creek Marina

We are now back to living on Gladlee while we wait for our new prop. It is being shipped up from Florida and will arrive on the 17th. We will have a quick haul out while they fit and secure it (a diver took the old one off). We will then do a short sea trial to test out the new engine under full load and hopefully will be underway for Deltaville by Saturday or Sunday. Luckily we have access to the marina courtesy car while we are here so we can get all our shopping done with no problem.

17th - Who Knows When, Town Creek Marina

It is now the 20th and we are still here. The new prop arrived but had the wrong taper in the bore. It went straight to the machine shop for a new bushing to be made. We now "expect" it to come back to the marina today, haul tomorrow to fit and sea trial in the afternoon and maybe head off on Thursday - after Julie's birthday on Wednesday.

23rd July - Beaufort to South River

We made it. All went well with the sea trials though we did have a bit of fine tuning to do after the first one which called for a second one on Thursday morning. All sorted, fuelled and watered and we are away. It feels very strange. The sounds of the new engine are very different and we run at much higher rpm than previously - part of the breaking in procedure for the engine. We get up to the Pamlico Sound just opposite Oriental and head into South River. This is a location Julie had wanted to try out before and it turned into a good anchorage - unfortunately just for overnight this time.

24th July - Slade Creek

Black Bear at Slade Creek The bear swimming across the creek

A fairly lazy start mid morning as we only have just over 30 miles to do to get to Slade Creek. Again this is one of our favourite anchorages. Unfortunately during our passage the weather starts to degenerate with thunderstorms all around us. The weather forecast on the radio is giving warnings of "Severe" thunderstorms in our location. We get into the Hoboken channel and it hits us. We see the storm approaching but have nowhere to go. It hits us like a steam train and we go from zero wind to over 60 knots in seconds. The boat heels to 45 degrees before we can get the nose into the wind and it is a real fight to keep it there. Visibility is zero and we have lightening coming down all around us - the lightening is about all we can see. Thanks to electronic charts we manage to keep in the channel as there is only one to two feet of water outside it. The storm passes quickly though and ten minutes later we are thankful to be alive. This is without doubt the worst storm we have ever endured. Slade Creek is a very welcome sight when we get there.

25th July - Bear Point, Alligator River

Up fairly early and manage to see a Black Bear very near to the boat. It is Big with a capital B. The first one we saw must have been an adolescent because this one was twice the size. And what a swimmer. Over half a mile across the creek. Anyway, after the photo shoot we get away to an uneventful day after yesterday and anchor at the bottom of the Alligator River.

26th July - Elizabeth City

An early start as we have near on 55 miles to do today to get us up to Elizabeth City. We tie up on their free City Docks and have quite a social gathering with the other boats there. We also head out for an evening at the local bar. This is a fairly special place here - they actually serve really good beer - unusual for the US. They deal with a lot of Microbreweries and have about 18 different drafts beers on offer - as well as the usual Bud and Coors etc. We always meet interesting people in these places and this evening is no exception. Al and Sue introduce themselves and amongst their regular activities are snorkeling for sharks teeth in a river in the middle of Virginia, hunting for Indian arrow heads and photographing lighthouses. (Amongst lots of other things too numerous to remember after a few pints of Belhaven Scottish Ale).

27th July - Dismal Swamp Welcome Centre

Frog with almost perfect camouflage Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Another mid-morning start as we are only going just over 20 miles. This is one of the nicer trips as it takes you up the Pasquotank River to the locks at the entrance to the Dismal Swamp Canal. We lock through and then after a few miles are at the Welcome Centre which offers free dockage.

28th July - Deep Creek Bridge

After a morning hike in the Dismal Swamp we head off to the next lock. We don't go through however and just tie to the wall before it. There is a Food Lion Supermarket here within a hundred yards so a good opportunity to get a few bits in. Also meet up with a Canadian boat - Sassy II - that was in Elizabeth City with us who are also tied on the wall.

29th July - Fort Monroe, Norfolk

Again not far today but we have to lock out of the canal and then go through the industrial area of Norfolk which includes bridges, shipping (big commercial stuff) and lots of boat traffic. We head up to Fort Monroe which we know quite well. This is after passing through Norfolk and then across the James River. We get anchored by early afternoon but within a couple of hours guess what - another severe thunderstorm comes through. Not quite as bad as the last one but still very bad. We have the engine on in case of problems and we do in fact drag our anchor. Because we have plenty of chain out though we only drag very slowly and can manage to wait for a lull before re-anchoring. These two storms have been our worst since coming to the US. The power of nature cannot be ignored. These were just thunderstorms not hurricanes. Fortunately we are OK which regrettably cannot be said for some poor soul. An hour or so after the storm we have radio reports of a person being seen in the water right in our anchorage and suddenly there is a coast guard helicopter, CG boats, police boats, fire and rescue boats etc all over the place. We find out the next morning that it is presumed to be a 58 year old man who had obviously been reported missing. Unfortunately no body had been found.

30th July - Jackson creek, Deltaville

We are here. At long last we are in Deltaville - 2 months later than planned. We top up with fuel at the marina and anchor overnight before going to the yard on the other side of the peninsular in the morning.

31st July - Broad Creek, Schroeder's Boat Yard

We manage to find the yard (having never been here before by boat) and tie up on their dock. We will spend a few days in the water getting some jobs done before hauling out maybe Monday or Tuesday. We also spend the time transferring everything we need to the RV ready for the big (delayed) adventure. It is hot and steamy and the work takes it out of both of us. Luckily we have the luxury of air conditioning in the RV.



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