Gladlee of Guernsey
The American Adventure
The American Adventure started with Gladlee being shipped over to the States from Palma, Mallorca in Nov/Dec 2004. We then stayed in Maule Lake Marina in North Miami Beach until the end of February. On the 1st March 2005 we set off for the Keys and spent the whole month there mainly waiting for a new depth sounder transducer! After the Keys, in April we went up the west coast of Florida, cruising the Little Shark River and Everglades National Park before heading to Fort Myers and into the Caloosahatchee River. May saw us traversing the Okeechobee Waterway and St Lucie Canal exiting at Stuart. Back on the Intracoastal Waterway and up past Titusville to Fernandina Beach still in Florida. In June we did a passage outside to Charleston, then continued up the ICW through Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound and the Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk and Fort Monroe near Hampton. As planned we arrived in the Chesapeake Bay on the 1st July and started cruising slowly again, taking in Deltaville, Solomons Island and Oxford. Gladlee will now remain in Deltaville for a year or so.
November 26th. Here we are sat in Palma onboard "Gladlee". Our bags have been moved to the hotel we will stay in tonight and we are just about ready to go out into the harbour to find Dockwise “Super Servant 3” where we will park "Gladlee" for the next few weeks for her passage to the US. It’s a nice day and we are looking forward to getting aboard and getting back to the hotel and out for a good meal. No problem at all finding the ship and lots of boats are now hanging around for the loading. There are just three boats to offload first and this goes well – at first. We are advised of a small problem with a small wooden boat which is leaking. Expect half an hour delay. It is now about 2.00pm. The half hour extends itself and the boat is now leaking so badly they have to stop submerging the ship. It is about 5.00pm before they actually manage to start loading and it has got quite cold. Of course "Gladlee" manages to be about the smallest boat on board and are therefore the last to load just after "Mystic" – our friends Steve and Jill who are crossing with us. We eventually get on board – just – but do seem to be hanging off the back just a touch!! A little worrying but there is nothing we can do about it – we just have to leave "Gladlee", do our paperwork and leave the ship. It is 7.45pm before we are berthed and about 8.30pm before we get off the ship.
Up to the hotel and a late dinner but in a real nice Tapa's bar with Steve and Jill. Not too late a night as we are all a bit on edge and are both flying back to the UK tomorrow before flying out to the US in a couple of weeks.
9th – 13th
December. We have flown
out to Fort Lauderdale to await "Gladlee" and to find a suitable marina to park up
in for a while until we get used to the place and get the boat Americanised with
Gas and Electric etc. Our big shock is that it’s not too easy to find anywhere
at all. We are either too small or they don’t accept liveaboards. Not what we
expected. We have found one quote from Harbourtown Marina but that is $1,600 per
month plus utilities!!!!! Almost by
accident we check out Maule Lake Marina in North Miami Beach and find that they
will not only accept us as liveaboards but the price is $440 plus tax/utilities.
Booked in quickly.
14th December. We
are whiling away the last few hours having been told that the ship is delayed
until later this afternoon so head out for the John Lloyd State Park. As we are
on the beach we spot "SuperServant 3" on the horizon and watch her come in to Port
Everglades. Quick return of the car and a ride to Port Everglades. After a
little searching manage to find the entrance to the dock and we are back on
"Gladlee". Unfortunately it is too late to unload so we are delayed until the
morning. We do however sleep on board tonight. Actually on board, on board if
you get the meaning. We have decided that we will do a little work on the hull
while we have a chance – antifoul the waterline, clean the prop and shaft etc.
We are told that the ship will start to submerge at 6.00pm so that gives us
plenty of time!! Ten minutes before
six I can see the water level rising at the back of the boat. Five minutes
before six and the water is just starting to lap over the edge and around my
feet. The quickest bit of antifouling follows and I am up the ladder with wet
15th December. We
are up early having been advised that we might start to unload at 6.00am. By the
time we have got our paperwork back it is 7.45am but the good news is “last
on – first off”. We are first one off the ship followed by "Mystic" and we are
now into our first taste of the Intracoastal Waterway and its many bridges.
The above pictures give an idea of the size of the ship. "Mystic" who can be seen unloading is actually bigger than "Gladlee" but looks like a toy. We parked between "Mystic" and the big thing to the right. Anyway we are now heading south and no problem with any of the bridges. The one thing though is that it is severely cold. We are all dressed in layers of clothing, gloves and hats. Can’t believe it – this is Florida. One of the bridges tells us he can only open one span as he is still de-icing?????
Stop at Hollywood Marina on the
way for fuel and then go and park on the public dock over the way while Ron
& Steve get a taxi into Port Everglades to finish off the customs paperwork.
All that is needed is to get our Cruising Permit which turns out to be very easy
with a real friendly guy dealing with us. Back in the taxi and to the boats then
continue south to Maule Lake where we settle into our home for what turns out to
be two and a half months.
16th December 2004 – 28th February 2005. Tucked up very nicely in Maule lake Marina and have made some nice friends here. "Lady T", Rick and Teresa; "Dolphin Dancer", Victor and Pat; "Scarlet", Mike and Brenda etc. The marina staff has totally changed in the time we have been here due to some problems and we are not sure if the marina will still be here next winter as it has been sold for Condominium development. We have however booked a slot for December and been told it will still be open??? Watch this space. And Christmas Day...
The big day has arrived and we are off cruising in the US of A.
The first day we manage a staggering 3.9 miles to the Oleta River State
Park anchorage where we stay for six days. We have "Lady T" rafted on us for one
night and manage of course to put a few Rum & Cokes back with Rick. "Scarlet"
have also come out for the party which has turned into quite the farewell party.
Next morning "Dolphin Dancer" comes by to say goodbye as they are heading for Key
West for a couple of weeks. A real
nice relaxing time generally.
The engine is on again and we are heading south for the ubiquitous
Julia Tuttle Bridge. The lowest on the ICW at 56 feet. We know that we are only
51 feet but it just doesn’t help. Of course we get under with 5 feet to spare.
A slow meander through downtown Miami, the Cruise Ship Port etc. and onto Miami
Marine Stadium. We stay here longer than planned as a weather front comes
through and it is both wet and windy for a couple of days. Manage to get ashore
but there is not really much about other than a very expensive restaurant (The
Rusty Pelican). Ron heads off on the bike for Winn Dixie on Biscayne Key and
gets back some two hours later knackered but with the shopping – it was
further than advised.
Left the Stadium at 8.15am and headed south for Sands Key. Our first real open water in Biscayne Bay for
quite a while. The big problem is that our Depth Sounder has decided to pack in just when we need it most in the shallow
waters of Florida Bay and the Keys. We are now steering by GPS linked in to C-Map for depths. We arrive at Sands Key no
problem and anchor off there, but hear that the weather is due to turn windy. Sands Key has no protection from the
west so it turns into a lunch stop and we are off again heading for Long Arseniker. There are a few other boats doing the same so we are quite confident.
Left the anchorage at 1.00pm and headed down to Key Largo. Arrive at 4.45pm
after a pleasant trip which included our first “Keys Creek” – Jewfish.
Julie managed to find the right spot to anchor just by following her nose to the
nearest bar. We therefore anchored off “Sundowners” bar and restaurant for
the next few days.
14th March. Moved just a little closer once we were OK about the depth. Had lunch with Chris and Linda who arranged for us to use Sundowners address for our mail – new transducers from the UK and also from Si-Tek in St. Petersberg.
15th – 29th
March. Stayed in and around Key
Largo (Blackwater Sound and Tarpon Bay) while we were waiting for our mail to
arrive. Managed to get lots of shopping though, had a wander round the John
Pennekamp State Park, had dinner at Chris and Linda’s and generally had a nice
Headed down to Islamorada (Upper Matacumbe Key) where we hope to get
into Coral Bay Marina to do both the transducer replacement and also sort out
what has become a serious oil leek with the engine. Anchor off first day to
check out the marina and the depth for getting in there.
31st March. Move
into the Marina. We have been told there is 4.5 feet at low water in the channel
so wait for high tide. We are 4 ft 7 in and still manage to touch bottom even
then. Anyway, all turns out to be good over the next few days. We get the oil
leek fixed (oil pump seal), fit the transducer, go diving, hire a car and take a
trip to Key West, shop etc. etc. All in all a real nice stay and a really good
mechanic for once who did not rip us off.
Finalised the shopping and settled the bill with the marina. Departed at 6.10pm which was 1 hour before high water to help us get through the channel.
Anchored off in 7feet just off the marina.
Early start at 7.35am as we had such a long day in store.
Arrived at Shell Key at 8.30am and tied to one of their buoys having
travelled 2.9 miles. The real
reason for the early start was to get high water for the passage through
Steamboat Channel which reputedly has only five feet. Went through with no
problem. Unfortunately Shell Key
not as good as we had hoped and unable to land. We had hoped to be able to get
to the lake in the middle but would have been unable to get through the
mangroves. Also Park Land and no trespassers!!!
6th April. Definitely
a long passage today. left at 7.40am heading for Yacht Channel and eventually
either Cape Sable or Little Shark River depending on the weather.
As it turned out we were unable to anchor at Cape Sable so went on to the
river. Motor sailed most of the way and arrived at the entrance to the river at
5.35pm having done over 45 miles.
7th April. Left
at lunchtime to head a bit further up the river. Just went another 3 miles and
anchored in 10 feet at a good Kayaking location.
Again left at lunchtime and headed a further 3 miles upriver where we
anchored close by Gunboat Island. Again a good Kayaking area. Also had the best
sight of all here. Cooking dinner in the early evening, looked out the window
and there was an Alligator swimming past!!!
Same again today and went still further up river anchoring just south
of Tarpon Bay in 7.5 feet.
10th April. Back down river today and anchored in the entrance ready for an early start tomorrow.
11th – 17th
April. Left Little Shark River
at 7.15am and headed up towards Everglades City. Anchored in Russell Pass just
after 3.00pm having done 34 miles. Beautiful spot with no passing traffic other
than the odd fishing boat. Unfortunately had to spend the best part of a week
here due to strong westerly winds which would have made the next passage very
difficult. Also unable to go into Everglades City itself as not really anywhere
suitable for us and also 7 knot tidal currents.
Just about managed to eat everything fresh on board and also attacked the
stores with a vengeance. Even getting down to some Greek/Turkish goods. Baked
bread etc. etc.
Moved down to anchor off Indian Key ready for an early departure but
no sooner had we anchored than we found ourselves in the middle of a huge swarm
of black flies. (Thousands of them). The boat looked black. Eventually got rid
of them but the wind had changed and it was becoming very uncomfortable so
headed back to Russell Pass for the night.
Away at 7.15am and motor sailed virtually all the way to Marco
Island. Had to go the long way round due to the shoals off Cape Romano. Arrived
in Factory Bay having successfully navigated the Capri Pass at 2.45pm.
Went and checked out the marina ready for tomorrow and also to do a
little shopping so as to have real food tonight..
Anchor up at 10.15am (absolutely full of thick mud) and into Marco
River Marina and alongside by 10.20am. Spent
the next two days here while we watered, fuelled, stored and did some sight
seeing including a trip to the beach at Tigertail.
Left the marina at 10.15am and worked our way round the difficult
channel to find the inside route to Naples.
Anchored behind Keewaydin Island in 9.5 feet. Not quite what we expected
with houses, lots of boat traffic etc. Managed to find an easy way to the beach
and had a lovely walk along the beach finding some lovely shells.
Weekend is here and the boat traffic is just too much for us. Move to
another anchorage early afternoon. Anchored in Rookery Channel just north of
Keewaydin Island a little further north up the inland route to Naples.
A leisurely morning we left the anchorage at 12.15pm and continued on
the inside passage up to the Gordon Pass, the Naples inlet. Went into Champney
Bay which is just inside the inlet. A strange anchorage which felt like being on
a water road in the middle of a high cost housing development. Very small
anchorage, houses totally surrounding it but very safe.
Exited the Gordon Pass and headed north up towards Sanibel Island.
Got to the bridge at Sanibel with wind blowing at 20+ knots and the sea getting
up quite badly. In view of having to cross the “Miserable Mile” if we
continued to Sanibel we decided to head off for Fort Myers directly and miss out
Sanibel Island. Didn’t get far, Shell Point when the weather looked really bad
ahead so anchored in 7.5 feet. Having then decided that we were not comfortable
with this anchorage we plugged on against wind and current arriving at Fort
Myers at 5.00pm. Contacted the City Marina and picked up a Mooring Ball in
between the two bridges. A bit noisy and a bit rough when wind was against tide
but felt perfectly safe. Stayed on the mooring ball for a couple of days and
even managed to watch some football in the local hostelry.
28th April. Left
Fort Myers fairly late in the morning for our first real foray into the
Okeechobee Waterway. A short day but also our first lock to pass through.
Franklin Lock turned out to be very easy. About a 2-3 foot lift with the lock
providing all necessary lines. Don’t know what all the fuss was about.
Just moved about 2 miles further upstream on the Caloosahatchee River and
found Rialto Harbour Docks which had been highly recommended to us. At $2 per
foot per night it needed to be. Anyway, turns out to be a lovely spot with each
dock having a little garden, nice walk round the grounds, swimming pool and
morning paper. Really like mooring in someone's back yard, which in reality is
exactly what it was. Only problem was that there was no shopping near by or even
within a cycle ride. Offered a ride by the owners but we really were not in need
of anything. On a trip out in the dinghy to Hickey Creek we did have our one
major disaster which was the outboard motor packing up on us totally.
Left at 10.00am for another one of those long days (17 miles) which put
us up to the small town of La Belle where we moored up at the Rivers Edge Motel
dock. A short walk into the very small town but with supermarket so managed to
find everything we needed.
Left La Belle at 8.55am and headed up the river and through our second
lock at Ortona. Again a very simple operation apart from the view of thousands
of tons of water pouring through the lock gates – the method the Corps of
Engineers uses on their locks. Just past the lock entered the canal called the
“Lollipop” by the locals. An old Quarry site with the pool at the end being
some 40 feet deep. Lots of birds and wildlife including the local herd of
inquisitive cows. A bit noisy once the adjacent quarry started up its generator
on Sunday night.
3rd May. Left
the anchorage at 9.10am and headed up towards Moore Haven, the next small town on
the river. Tied up alongside Thomas Dock which looked in better condition than
the City Dock and both the same price. Small supermarket available and managed
to find a bar but unfortunately no ESPN2 so missed this weeks action in the
Champions League. Cycled out and
had a chat with the lock-keepers about the water level in the lake to see about
what we would need to do at the Mayaca Bridge (49 feet clearance). Very friendly
Left Moore Haven at 11.55am, headed through the locks and into Lake
Okeechobee proper. (At least the Rim Route part of it). Not quite what either of
us had expected. The spoil islands were covered in dead trees probably from the
last hurricane. Lots of Alligators about and also of course lots of bird life
(Julie in seventh heaven). The weather could have been kinder and thunderstorms
were rolling in on us
Headed to the SE corner of the
lake, South Bay, and found the kidney shaped bay that we had been looking for.
This was really one of the best anchorages we have had in regard to nature.
Alligators everywhere, birds everywhere, turtles everywhere. Julie went out
Kayaking but decided discretion was the better part of valour with the
alligators and cut short the trip after lots of big, close splashes.
7th May. Today is the day – the Mayaca Rail Bridge. Have been up and re-measured the mast, have removed the VHF aerial and the wind instruments which should give us a total height of just over 48 feet. It all depends now on the water level. Left the anchorage at 7.20am and headed up passed Slims Fish Camp, looking worse for wear after last years hurricane, Payhoke Marina which is still closed after the hurricane and onto the lock at Port Mayaca. According to the lock keeper the bridge height is 49 feet Of course it was nothing to worry about, loads of spare clearance. A celebratory beer and down river just a bit further to Indiantown Marina. This was a place we had heard about and wanted to check out as a possible winter hole for ourselves.
10th May. Left Indiantown with full tanks and headed out of the Okeechobee Waterway after what was a unique trip through central Florida. Arrived in Stuart on the East coast and went to the Southpoint mooring field where we picked up a mooring ball. Stayed here for a couple of days as shopping was fairly easy and it was Rons birthday on the 11th. After a few beers in the local watering hole the birthday dinner was held in Wendy’s with hamburgers, fires and coke. What better.
Back onto the ICW proper and heading north where we overnighted at
Fort Pierce or Port Fierce as Julie would have it. Anchored just south of the
Causeway Island Bridge at Mile 964.
Left mid-morning for a fairly short day anchoring near Pine Island
and Hole in the Wall Island at Mile 946. Sometimes a short day is called for so
as to get the right anchorages. Spent an extra day here as Julie wanted to get
out Kayaking and it was a fairly remote area.
Left fairly early with no clear plan as to where we would spend the
night. The plan was to head for the Banana River and maybe go up that a little.
Alternatives were Melbourne or Dragon Point. In the end we anchored very nicely
at Dragon Point, named because someone in the sixties had built a large green
dragon right on the point of Banana River. Unfortunately now it is just a wreck
along with some of the houses on the point. This did turn out to be quite a good
anchorage as shopping was very easy. Also had our friends "Mystic" join up with us
here the night before we left. Mile
20th May. Heading further north on the ICW and we are now into NASA country. We anchor just north of the NASA Causeway Bridge which is so named because all the NASA workers cross this bridge to go to work. Mile 885.
Planning to head up to Titusville for a stay in the Marina but only
got as far as the Titusville Bridge. We had a severe Thunderstorm pass right
overhead of us producing heavy rain, 30+ knot winds and for the ICW quite huge
seas. Very difficult to stay in the channel and getting quite dangerous. Could
only make it to the bridge as the bridge tender could not open due to the high
winds. As the storm eased we anchored just south of the bridge and called it a
Radio’d into Titusville Marina and got in there quite early (11.15am).
Hired a car here and went touring the Kennedy Space Centre for a day. Also
managed to find a bar showing the final of the Champions League which Liverpool
won on penalties having been 3-0 down in the first half.
Shopped and also got our Propane gas bottle filled here. Spent a couple
of days in the marina then moved outside and anchored for a couple more days.
Left early and headed for the Ponce de Lion inlet and anchored in
Rockhouse Creek. Lovely coastal anchorage and well protected by sand bars etc.
Again left early heading for Flagler Beach where we anchor in a very
narrow canal. Have to anchor fore and aft as it is so narrow.
Also quite shallow at the entrance but manage to sneak over the bar.
Early start at 06.30am and by 06.35am we have been on the bottom missing
the narrow channel to go over the bar at the entrance. Just bounced off though
so no problem. Anchored in yet another Pine Island at Mile 765.
So many early starts. Left at 06.25am just really so that we can get
some miles on. Call in at Amelia Island Yacht Basin on the way and fuel and top
up with water. Anchor just north of there in the Amelia River.
Although we are very safe where we have anchored we do get a bit of a
shock when the tide goes out. There is about six foot of tide here and the
difference to the rivers edge is worrying – lots of oyster lines, shallows
etc. Just a timely warning to be careful. Mile 719.
Another early start to make miles BUT…… we get to Fernandina
beach which is only about 3 miles and spot our friends on "Hula" anchored there.
So we anchor behind them and finish up staying for a couple of days.
At this point it is worth noting that we have passed through both St.
Augustine and Jacksonville. Neither of us wanted to visit these as we had both
been to them before.. Mile 716.
June. Because of a problem in
Georgia near Savannah with one of the bridges we now have to go outside the ICW
into the big ocean and bypass Georgia. We leave with the tide at 8.50am for an
overnight passage. The weather is as usual not kind to us and we have
thunderstorms and strong winds although they are from the south so we can motorsail some of the way. Also had a problem with the Autohelm with a pin
breaking and had to manufacture another one en route. Re-entered the ICW on the
4th June at Port Royal Inlet which is the inlet for Beaufort
(pronounced Bufort) and eventually anchored just past there in Brickyard
Creek. We are now in North Carolina, our first “New State” since arriving in
the US. Mile 530.
4th June. No
rest for the wicked. Off we go again making miles though we don’t start until
11.00am. The whole scenery has
changed now and we are very much more into rivers rather than the dredged
channels of Florida. Really much prettier passage making.
Tonight we anchor in Tom Point Creek just off the Edisto River.
This is really a very pretty stop and we decide to have an extra day.
Still have big tides but the creek banks are much more “square” here so no
problems. Mile 496.
6th June. Leave at 6.15am for a not too long passage to Charleston, our first major city for some time. We have decided to go to Cooper River Marina here as we need to hire a car anyway. This marina is a bit out of town but with the car is no problem. We need the car because our new outboard has already broken and we need to get a warranty fix. On the way we have to go through Wappoo Creek and are very pleased to have got the tide right. It is very narrow and we have about 4 knots of current with us. Logic says the current should have been the other way but we don’t complain. Arrive at Coopers River Marina at 1.10pm. Over the next couple of days we get the outboard fixed, have a great look round Charleston, meet up with "Hula" again and Julie spots a boat she knows from Antalya 10 years ago and we touch base with Frank and Zoe Butler from "Intuition". All in all a very welcome and pleasant stop.
Leave Charleston on the outgoing tide just before 2.00pm trying to get
the tide right for when we come out of the main harbour area back into the ICW
channel. Nearly got it right. Get through the Ben Sawyer Bridge and anchor in an
un-named creek off Hamlin Sound and Dewee Creek. Mile 454.
Head off early towards Georgetown but anchor in Minim Creek just
before there. Mile 415.
Our original plan to stop in Georgetown was to visit Kurt, Tari’s
nephew but he was out of town so we basically by-passed it. North of Georgetown
we are in the Waccamaw River and it is really gorgeous. We anchor in a nice
ox-bow just north of Bucksport on the river. Mile 375.
Nice easy start just after 10.00am and we are heading for the free dock
at Barefoot Landing. Not knowing what to expect (the landing is attached to a
large shopping mall) we are prepared to go further.
However we tie up with plenty of room on the landing and not too much
wake from passing boats due to the nearby bridge. The mall turns out to be
pretty good and we have a nice walk around. There is a Tiger display to raise
money and there are some serious Tigers there including Snow and Bengal Tigers.
Find a bar/restaurant and eat out. Mile
More miles. Leave at 7.05am, through what is called “The Rockpile”,
a narrow section with rocks either side of the channel. Anchor in a place called
Pipeline Canal just south of Southport on the Cape Fear River which we have to
do tomorrow. Mile 311.
Decided to have a day of rest yesterday
so we are doing the Cape Fear River today. Despite the film and the name it
turns out to be pretty easy and we head on up to Wrightsville Beach. Anchor off
and find Roberts Grocery store to top up the fresh produce. Mile 283.
A busy day. leave Wrightsville at 6.20am to beat the bridge restriction
starting at 7.00am. At 11.20am we anchor for a lunch stop in Sloops Creek and also
for Julie to dive on the hull to see if she can get rid of some of our layers of
barnacles. Turns out to be not totally clear water but a job well done anyway.
Onwards to New River Marina for the cheapest fuel in North Carolina (yes we are
in another new State) before going to a place called Mile Hammock Bay to anchor.
This is a dredged basin
owned by the military (Camp LeJeune). There is a note in our book that says to put
the anchor light on due to military manoeuvres. What we hadn’t expected was
helicopters flying over us at mast height at 11.00pm at night. Still it’s all fun. Mile
17th June. More
miles. A bit of a drudge up towards Morehead City/Beaufort (pronounced Bofort).
Anchor in Spooners Creek which is a little like the place in Naples where we are
anchored in peoples back yard. Manage to find a Food Lion supermarket but when
we go in there is nothing on the shelves – trust us – it is re-locating so
running down the stock. We buy nothing. Mile 210.
18th June. "Hula"
is in Morehead City so we move up a little and tie up at the Sanitary
Restaurant. Wonderful name which stems from the need in the ‘30’s
for a clean and sanitary restaurant.
Needless to say we eat out. We
also manage to catch the “Big Rock” fishing competition when they are landing
the catches. There are a few 60/70 pound Dorado but then there is a 507 pound
Blue Marlin – quite a fish which eventually gets third prize for the weeks
competition. Mile 205.
Leave Morehead City and head up to the Adams Cut which will take us
into Pamlico Sound. A windy day with up to 25 knots blowing. As we are in a cut
this presents no problem for us. Anchor
in Cedar Creek at the top of Adams Cut. Mile
Head out at 6.30am to check out Pamlico Sound. It has been blowing most
of the night and we are not sure. As
soon as we get into the Sound proper we have 30 knots from the NE – the
longest fetch possible and it is untenable. We head back to Cedar Creek and
spend the day there.
It’s been a quiet night so we head out at 7.00am to check the Sound
out. Turns out to be OK so we head up past Oriental and into Broad Creek where
we are going to see some friends from the Med, Tom and Peg from a boat called
"Starboard Home". They live in Broad Creek and have dock space for us at the house.
We get tied up at 10.50am with a wonderful welcoming committee. Though we don’t
know them too well they cannot be nicer and after a couple of days don’t want
us to leave. We have miles to make though.
Dragging ourselves away from Tom and Pegs we head off and cross
Pamlico Sound with no problems. Go into Slade Creek just south of Bellhaven.
Decided to leave at 6.00am but when we got up we couldn’t see the
river banks due to fog. Back to bed for an hour. Bliss.
Underway at 7.35am and into the Alligator anchoring at the south end just
off Swan Creek. Mile 101.
Up the Alligator River, through the bridge across the mouth and into
South Lake. Very shallow entrance so nice and careful. Anchor in 7 feet.
Its now time to cross the Albermarle Sound which everyone says can be
really mean. We cross it in a flat
calm. The main problem we have is that in the flat calm we have tens of
thousands of little flies descend on us and blanket the boat and us. Can’t
believe we have long trousers and long sleeves in 30 degrees heat.
We have also taken the decision to go through the Dismal Swamp rather
than the Virginia Cut to get to the Chesapeake and the split happens in the
Albermarle. We make Elizabeth City by 1.50pm and tie up at the famous Free
City Docks.. At this point all the flies decide to leave us thankfully.
Unfortunately the wind gets up from the SE which is the worst possible
direction for the docks which quickly become untenable. We therefore head off
through the bridge and anchor in the Pasquotank River just off the Elizabeth
City YC. Mile 49.
A big day today. We have talked about the Dismal Swamp Canal for over
a year and today we get there. First we have to go up the Pasquotank River. It
turns out to be the best yet. The river narrows and becomes quite twisty which
makes for a stunning morning. We
have to get to the South Mills Lock by 1.30pm and actually arrive about 12.00pm so
decide to go into the old barge loading canal for a lunch stop. Actually go
alongside the old dock. At 1.30pm we
enter the lock and climb about 8 feet into the canal. The canal is 200 years old
and in recent years has had to struggle for its annual budget. It could do with
a bit more being spent on it but we find it just adds to the uniqueness. We tie
up at the free dock at the Dismal Swamp Visitor Centre at Mile 28.
Our only problem is the number of Yellow Deer Fly which are serious
biters that draw blood.
30th June. It
rained yesterday so we stayed put. The flies gave us hell but we locked down
with the screens in place. We did however have a visit today. Tom and Peg were
driving to Massachusetts and called into the Visitor Centre for a “Comfort
Break”. Saw a boat that looked like "Gladlee" and found it was us. Real nice
people. Today we finish off the canal by “locking out” at Deep Creek. Before
we do this we have an hour spare at Deep Creek Bridge which luckily has a dock
and a nearby Food Lion supermarket. The
lock lowers us 12 feet due to low tide and we are back in real waters. Join up
with the main channel of the ICW at Mile 7 and continue up through Portsmouth,
Norfolk etc. to Hampton Roads where we anchor in Mill Creek just off Fort Monroe.
We have passed the magic Mile Zero and have finished the Atlantic Intracoastal
Waterway. Coincidentally our boat log clicked through to 0000.00 (40,000 miles) just about the
time we cleared Mile Zero on the ICW.
In the morning we head over to Fort Monroe for a tourist morning. The
museum is free and excellent telling the story of the fort from the early
1600’s to present time. This is still an active military Fort specialising in
Coastal Gunnery. In the afternoon we head into the Chesapeake proper and up to
Horn Harbour just north of Mobjack Bay.
2nd July. Today we are heading up to Deltaville to meet up with Tari who is visiting family there. Deltaville is on the Piankatank River. We arrive and anchor only to find out that Tari has arranged for us to go on to her sons, wifes, fathers, nephews dock.
We are here really to spend the
4th July weekend and have a fantastic time. "Hula" are also here so the
Brits have a presence. We actually
like the place so much that we have now decided to keep "Gladlee" in Deltaville
Marina while Ron goes back to work in the Oman for a year or two. It is cheaper
than Annapolis and we now have friends who will look after her.
Onto the fuel dock at 8.00am to fill up both fuel and water. Then onto
Sandy Point in the Great Wicomico River anchoring there at 1.20pm.
Back to the early starts but really to get across the Potomac River
before the wind gets up. Day starts a bit rough with about 15 knots on the nose but
eventually the sea flattens down a bit. We arrive at Mill Creek at Solomons
Island in Maryland at 4.20pm and drop anchor.
Weather seems fine so we get an early start heading for Oxford on the
East Shore. All we manage is gentle breezes and it turns out to be a nice but
hot day. We anchor in Town Creek in Oxford at 2.45pm.
We had expected Oxford to be very busy and thought we may not find room
in Town Creek but for whatever reason Oxford was pretty quite and we were the
only boat anchored. The good news is that we are in a superb area for T-Mobile. Because of this we spend a little time here and Julie uploads
"Gladlee"’s very first web site to the web.
11th July. We head off just after lunch time and head up the Tred Avon River. A fairly short and easy passage and we anchor in Shipshead Creek in just under 7 feet.
13th July. Time
to move back to Oxford as Julie has got more of "Gladlee"’s website to upload.
Back there by 4.00pm and anchor in roughly the same place as last time.
Again time to move on, this time to St.Michael's.
We have however decided to do St.Michael’s by the “back door” and we
go up San Domingo Creek as far as possible and anchor in 7.5 feet.
This turns out to be a good move – the dinghy dock is only about 400
yards away and then a short walk to St.Michael’s town centre, passing the
grocery store on the way. We enjoy
our stay here, the town has a bit of a “buzz” about it which we didn’t
find in Oxford. Spend a couple of hours going to the Chesapeake Maritime
Museum (the air conditioning was great) and found the best bar in town, the
Carpenter Street Saloon.
We now feel that it is time to start heading back to Deltaville and
get the boat ready for leaving. So off we
go for Solomons Island again where we anchor back in Mill Creek.
This time we persevere a bit with the dinghy and find the Holiday Inn
dinghy dock and the grocery store, West Marine and the Launderette.
Again time to move on and an early start so that we can cross the
Potomac again before the wind gets up. However!!!! On starting the engine we
manage to suck up a jellyfish in the engine cooling water intake. A very careful
cleaning of the filter ensues as do memories of Ray from "Triton" who did the same
thing in the Black Sea. After a bit of flushing out we managed to get underway
and with no problems headed for Reedville. We met up here with our old Aussie
friends Chris and Karyn from S/Cat "Magic Carpet".
So there we are at anchor when up comes a local guy who introduces
himself as Spud Parker. What a nice guy. Invites us to his dock, use of power
and water etc. etc. Anyway,
Reedville turns out to be a nice small town and we do the ice cream parlour and
the local museum. First night dinner on board "Magic Carpet" and second night
dinner on "Gladlee".
And so – the final passage for quite some time. Early start for
Deltaville where we arrive and dock close by "Hula" who is undergoing repairs from
a direct lightening strike. Poor Richard.
Actually this is the last passage – from the dock to the haul out
dock and Sod's Law, we get a plastic bag around the prop and stalled just as we
were backing into the haul-out slot! Perhaps "Gladlee" didn't want to be left? She
is now 'on the land' and prepared for a fairly long stay while we go back to the
Oman to earn a few more pennies, do a bit more diving etc. etc.
SO ENDS THIS CHAPTER OF THE