After a month in Palm Beach Gardens, we were at last ready to begin our travels north for the next several months. Excited to be on the open ocean (and have good ocean breezes to blow away the oppressive humidity and heat of Florida in June), we left Old Port Cove marina at 1:30pm on May 31st and cruised out the Lake Worth inlet, heading north.
We knew the seas would be a little challenging, as various fronts had been moving through for a while. We wanted to catch a ride on the Gulf Stream, but stay out of the middle where the worst of the squalls were forecasted. We used Chris Parker for our weather planning (highly highly highly recommend), and Neil charted a course for us to Charleston, SC.
The first day and night were pretty rough (praise the Lord for Scopolamine patches!), but we were also rewarded with amazing sunsets and sunrises as well as a night sky bursting with stars and a waxing crescent moon. The depth of the stars with no light pollution is hypnotizing. The trip itself was for the most part blissfully calm as Kathleen listened to books and Neil listened to music to help the nights pass. Our new navigation electronics performed brilliantly and we didn’t have any glitches on this run (which was about 52 hours).
We had to slow down as we approached Charleston as we were not able to catch the early morning slack current which is the best way to safely enter and dock at Charleston Harbor marinas, so we throttled back and were fully tied up by 5:30pm June 2nd at our slip at the Charleston Harbor marina. We were both exhausted, and sticky, so Neil hosed off the boat while Kathleen showered off two days of boating. After Neil did the same, we walked around the marina, eventually settling into chairs on the outdoor patio of the local casual waterfront restaurant and bar.
Once fed, we were back on the boat, Kathleen set to watch some TV, Neil agreeing, but asleep before opening credits rolled! We both had a great, undisturbed rejuvenating full night of sleep. The next day Neil met with a local service yard to review our next project, solar panel installation (sorry, daughters – some of your sunbathing area is getting covered…). We planned to stay in Charleston until Tuesday and then continue north to Beaufort, NC, heading up to Deltaville to get some work done on the bow thruster before continuing north! Charleston is such a beautiful place and we were excited to be back here for a few days!
We ended up spending 5 days in Charleston, waiting for a good weather window. During that time, we got to tour around Charleston for a day and get the boat spiffed up. Charleston is FILLED with US history, and it is very easy to get lulled into the beauty and charm of this southern gem – we are looking forward to docking the boat here in November for a little while.
We left Charleston the morning of June 7th, cruising outside on the Atlantic overnight, coming in through the Beaufort, NC inlet and continuing up the ICW to an anchorage in Broad Creek off of the Neuse River. It had been a couple of years since we had cruised these waters, and it was wonderful to see again the vast, quiet beauty of this part of North Carolina. These waterways are truly hidden gems, with soft breezes, lots of birds and other wildlife, and lush shores crowded with tall grasses and various trees. Broad Creek is a well-protected area and we enjoyed our night anchored there.
June 9th found us continuing up the ICW to the Alligator River, anchoring just off the ICW in some protected waters as there were winds blowing in from the north. Again, the trip was fun, lots of winding waterways, bridges, and mostly sailboats accompanying us. We were definitely enjoying and becoming accustomed to the stillness of the mornings and evenings; there is a certain calm that descends on you when you travel these waters at slower speeds. Of course, that gets punctuated with moments of frustration with others traveling at varying speeds – it would be perfect if we could have it all to ourselves!!!
June 10th we cruised from the Alligator River anchorage through the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and anchored at the north end of Albemarle Sound in the North River. The only bother was the myriad of crab pots – we had not missed those – but once again, had a lovely cruise day, enjoying all that the NC ICW had to offer.
Up early the next morning to hopefully beat the departing boat traffic from a popular marina ahead of us – Coinjock – we had a sunrise departure and an easy cruise, passing Coinjock Marina, and continuing up, try our best to time our arrivals for various bridge openings, and tying up at Atlantic Yacht Basin Marina by noon. This marina is a working boat yard, with sheds for long-term docking and various facing docks for “overnighters” like us. They were completely booked for the night but found us a spot in the back between some sheds, dock was a little rough but our tie-up was protected and had power and water – about all we ever really need. It was a really hot, still day, but by evening the light breezes pushed out the heat, and we enjoyed relaxing in the quiet dockage – we are pretty sure we were the only people there.
June 12th we cast off at 6:45 for another long day of cruising, heading through Norfolk to Deltaville. We cruised through the first bridge and into the Great Bridge lock to move up the Albemarle-Charleston Canal to the Elizabeth River. It is always awe-inspiring to come into the Norfolk area and cruise past the US Navy shipyard – the oldest in the country, established before the US was born. As the largest naval shipyard, we got to see all kinds of naval ships as well as container ships. We only saw one aircraft carrier this time, but a lot of LHD’s (Landing Helicopter Dock ships) that are very impressive in their own right. Cruising by the navy ships to exit Norfolk, we got behind two tugs that were moving a huge container crane. It was quite the sight, but we were happy when we could go around them and continue our way up the Chesapeake. Unfortunately, shortly after we entered the Bay, we could see a large storm cell in front of us, moving our way. Neil turned us around and we cruised back south for an hour or so to avoid the worst of it, which was somewhat successful. We eventually turned back around and cruised through the remnants of the storm, but it had lost some of its fight by the time it engulfed us. Unfortunately, this detour added two hours to our trip, so we didn’t pull into the Deltaville Regatta Point Marina until 5:30pm. We were happy to see this pretty place, and very grateful for the friendly boaters who came out to help us tie up.
Deltaville is a small, colonial-era town that has beautiful scenery at every turn. We saw bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, cardinals and other birds. The fish jumped around our boat. The trees were majestic and swayed as the wind whispered through them. The marina was great with all amenities including a loaner car. Neil met with the people from Zimmerman Marine who came over to check out our bow thruster problem. Thankfully, after the technician completed troubleshooting, removed the electric motor and reinstalled, the clunking sound was gone. So we avoided another expensive part replacement/haul out (for now). We borrowed the loaner van and went to the only market. It wasn’t quite as slim pickings as the Bahamas, but we were not able to stock up on fresh fruit or much veggies. We did hit a great seafood shop, purchasing fresh crab cakes, fresh oysters, and some other snacky seafood-y items. We ended up staying at the marina for three days waiting for the weather to improve.
We left Deltaville on June 15th after noon exiting the Chesapeake around 5:30pm at Cape Charles. We were buzzed by a military helicopter while cruising, which woke us both up!
The trip north was another overnighter, with a magnificent sunset, stars sprinkled all across the sky, and a moon almost full lighting up the waters. We did have thunderstorms from 5:30 am – 10:00 am, which weren’t too bad as the water was not too rolly. We cruised into Delaware Bay and turned into Cape Henlopen to anchor behind a breakwall. Kathleen was very excited to see several pods of dolphins here, all of them having at least one baby swimming right up next to mom, learning how to fish. We got anchored, and relaxed and napped the rest of the day away.
On the 17th, we lowered the dinghy and cruised around to see the area. Gorgeous houses, lots of beaches and boats from kayaks to ferries surrounded us. We took the dinghy up the Lewes-Rehobeth Canal and tied up to go visit Lewes. This town claims to be the first town in the first state – it does date back to the early 1600’s. The homes are beautiful and kept faithfully to the colonial architecture. After walking around, we got lunch and enjoyed the views. We scooted back to the boat after that as the winds were building and we wanted to get back – Kath got a bit splashed as we rode out into the bay, but it was all fun (although the water is MUCH colder here than the Bahamas!).
The winds kicked up very rolly conditions, which added an element of “fun” for Kathleen’s yoga and pilates practices, but brought out the kite surfers, who had fun all day skimming across the waters. We enjoyed Father’s Day with a video call with the kids, and then looked for a window to continue on to Montauk, NY early next week.
We raised anchor at 8:15 am on June 20th. Exiting was a bit tricky with strong currents, and a lot of boats and shipping traffic, but we made it across large shipping lanes without any mishaps. The cruise was really nice, with smooth seas, a following wind and beautiful night sky including a huge, orange moon. With the sunrise, the ocean was calm and beautiful. There were dozens of dolphins frolicking and fishing around the boat, and Neil even had the rare treat of seeing a whale – for the first time! (Kathleen was zonked out at the time and was bummed to have missed this!)
We encountered some rain as we approached Montauk Point, but it lightened, and we had amazing views of the historic lighthouse. There were tons of fishing boats that we negotiated as we came around the point and entered the protected harbor of Lake Montauk. The path back to the anchorage was tricky as the water outside the narrow channel was very shallow, but we got through, and we dropped anchor in placid waters with stunning homes and lush surroundings. Kathleen was very excited to be cool and actually needing long pants, and was entranced as the evening brought a rolling fog over the hills, creating a surreal, quiet, cozy environment as the day ended. Montauk is the northernmost part of the Hamptons – and is picturesque and placid.