Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor, MD 5/18/2019
C & D Canal
Delaware City Marina, Delaware City 5/19-21/2019
Farley State Marina, Atlantic City, NJ 5/22-25/2019
Hoffman Marina, Brielle, NJ 5/25-27/2019
Bohemia Bay Yacht Harbor was our last stay on the Chesapeake Bay. It reminded us of home. It was a beautiful, wide river lined with trees and we easily could have mistaken it for the St. Croix. The marina was so friendly and very family oriented. The couple behind us on the T head had been boating there for over 30 years. They offered us their car to get groceries and were so welcoming. We enjoyed the sunset and watching families playing on the beach. We stayed only one night as it was near the C & D Canal and we were headed there Sunday.
Sunday morning was a debris filled cruise thru the C & D Canal. With all the rain in the area, rivers were flooding and those that run into the canal were dumping lots of logs and branches that we needed to dodge on our way thru. The Chesapeake and Delware Canal connects the two bodies of water. It's a man made canal and was made primarily for commerical traffic to get goods thru to interior ports. We got lucky and didn't meet any barges and got to our destination, Delaware City Marina by early afternoon.
Delaware City Marina
It was a gorgeous day, so we unpacked the bag bikes and biked for most of the afternoon. There is a walk/bike path that runs the length of the canal, 14 miles from Chesapeake City to Delaware City. It was busy with lots of bikers and walkers and us ;) on Sunday.
Up before dawn this morning to make the trip from Delaware City to Atlantic City. There was a total of seven boats making the trek down the bay and according to Tim, the Dockmaster at Delaware City Marina, the Delaware Bay was going to be the best it could be for traveling. Tim conducts nightly captains’ meetings for those seeking guidance from a local who knows his stuff! We attended both Monday night and Tuesday nights meetings and the modes for wind, waves, current and weather predicted a stellar day.
It’s interesting to us because NO ONE and I mean NO ONE, ever talked about the Delaware Bay being a tricky and icky piece of water. It’s only 60 miles to Cape May from Delaware City, but it’s can be a treacherous trip if you don’t do your homework. Tom does a great job with researching the conditions for us so it was very gratifying for him in the meetings to know his findings were correct.
After all the slow boats got off the dock, boats that are going 7 – 9 knots, we pulled up to the fuel dock, filled up and pumped out and were on our way by 7:15am. We took off. Seas were great for while….and then they weren’t. Tim said it could change once we started to slant into the east side of the bay to access the canal and it did! The last 15 miles were HORRID. The dingy was taking a pounding and I was afraid it was going to get ripped off the swim platform. We plowed thru and made to the canal and then stopped in the Cape May basin area got the dinghy pulled back into place, reattached the wench to the front ring, tightened down the straps and added two more to secure it even better.
After regrouping, we headed out the Cape May Inlet with a little trepidation. Neither of us were interested in getting p***pounded again. To our amazement, the Atlantic was beautiful. The waves were less than 1 ft and the farther north we traveled, the more the seas flattened. Our last 40 miles was a piece of cake and we arrived in Atlantic City at the Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget by 12:15pm. Not bad for a 105 mile day. Sometimes it’s great being able to run fast!
Farley State Marina, Atlantic City, NJ
Well, Atlantic City is exactly like you think it is. Big casinos, the boardwalk and guys asking you, "How you do'in?" I'm serious! I felt like I was in an episode of Jersey Shores and Snooky was going to appear any moment. ;)
We forget that as we are traveling north the boating season is just beginning. Memorial Day is the kick off for most boaters. It definitely was that way in Atlantic City. After we arrived on Wednesday, the boating masses began to filter into the marina. Large boats and people ready to party. We were feeling pretty old.....in bed by nine as the band in the marina was just warming up!
Hoffman Marina, Brielle, NJ
You're not suppose to have a schedule when you're on the Loop and up to this point, we've pretty much stuck to that philosophy, but we have family and friends (Sam, Griff, Dave & Megan Weinhold) arriving this week on Fire Island, NY, and come hell or high water 😉 we're gonna get there! So we took off from Atlantic City early when a weather window presented itself Saturday and arrived in Brielle, NJ. It was a bumpy ride at first but got better the closer to our destination.
We've only been here two days, checked out the town and reprovisioned but are leaving tomorrow for Fire Island because we got lucky again and have another good weather window. I can't wait! We've been put intouch with a friend of a friend, Glen, who boats on Fire Island. He's been a great resource and we can't wait to meet him, his wife, family and Rob and Sarah (Weinhold) Duke and their family tomorrow. It's gonna be another great adventure on the Loop!
More later from Fire Island~
Back in March, we saw the Yacht Capital of the World - Fort Lauderdale and this week, Annapolis, known as the sailing capital. Annapolis is amazing. Marina's abound and the historic district is right off the water next to the Naval Academy. We were surprised to find out this nationally renowned boating city's population is only 40,000. From the looks of it, there are more boats than people.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and settled in. We had a few things to get done while in Annapolis, like getting the transmission fluid changed and finding transportation to Washington, DC for our side trip, in addition to taking in this historic water town.
We met our slip neighbor, Dennis, who welcomed us right off and who happened to have lived in Minnesota for 29 years. We ended up doing docktails in the evening with Dennis and learned all about his sailing adventures. Great guy!
Thursday we took off early in the rain in an uber for DC. We wanted to beat rush hour and we did! Our uber driver got us all the way down by the Washington Memorial and that's where we began our walking tour of the monuments. They were spectacular and everything I had imagined. Tom has been to Washington several times (I never have), most recently with Sam as guardians on a WWII Honor Flight, so he was a great tour guide.
Most folks have been to DC, so I'll try not to bore you with too many photos...
We then headed to National Museum of American History (Smithsonian). Loved our time touring the Entrepreneurial Exhibit along with everything else in this museum. It was amazing and we spent the entire afternoon there.
Friday was spent changing transmission fluid and checking out downtown Annapolis. Below are a few shots of Annapolis....
Up next Bohemia River and the C & D Canal~
Waiting until the afternoon to travel is typically not our mode of operation, but Saturdays weather called for a delay in departure. The Chesapeake Bay is a large body of water and like any large body of water it can be ugly. Tom had been following the weather for days and knew the wind coming from the northeast was suppose to start dying down by mid-afternoon from 10-12 mph to 4-8 mph and waves were suppose to be 1-2, so definitely doable on the Chesapeake. We took off about 1pm and it was rough, but we were heading to St. Michaels on the East coast of the Chesapeake in Maryland and figured we could handle it. It did eventually flatten out a little and since we got up on plane, we got there in about 2 1/2 hours. There are definitely benefits to being able to get up and run.
As day turned to evening on Saturday in St. Michaels, the clouds grew darker and it started raining and blowing. Typically, we check out our new ports right away, but we decided to stay onboard instead with hopes that Sunday (Mother’s Day) would bring better weather. It didn’t. However, it did bring calls from two boys, one from MN and another from CO, that brightened my cold, rainy Mother’s Day.
Monday wasn’t much better, but we still got out and wandered around town. To call St. Michaels quaint is an understatement. When everyone you talk to recommends that you stop in St. Michaels, they are right. It truly is a gem on the Chesapeake. We loved our time in St. Michaels even though the weather didn’t cooperate.
Here’s a few thoughts from our time in St. Michaels……
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
More later from Annapolis and Washington, DC~
Our view from the boat of the Calvert Cliffs, near the entrance to the Patuxent River and Solomons, dominate the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay for roughly 24. They were formed over 10 to 20 million years ago when all of Southern Maryland was covered by a warm, shallow sea. When the sea receded the cliffs were exposed and began eroding. Today these cliffs reveal the remains of prehistoric species Including sharks, whales, rays, and seabirds that were the size of small airplanes.
We've taken a few days to regroup in Solomons, MD. The boat needed a little attention: oil change, air filters, impellers, etc. so we have been enjoying this beautiful area of the Chesapeake on the west coast. Solomons, not Solomon as the locals will remind you, includes Solomons Island and mainland on the north side of the mouth of Patuxent River, where it meets the Chesapeake Bay. It is just across from the U.S. Patuxent River Naval Air Station (on the south side of the mouth of the Patuxent River). The northside of the island is filled with one marina after another. Not fancy marinas filled with yachts, smaller marinas filled with weekend sailboats, cruisers, trawlers and working fishing/crabbing boats. We stayed at Spring Cove Marina and the staff and people on the docks couldn't have been nicer. Lots of folks just getting there boats splashed in and busy with the spring boat cleaning routine of scrubbing off the winter dirt.
You can really tell that were getting farther north now because of the landscape. It's finally getting green. The marina, which is set back in a little cove along banks of trees and beautiful flower beds, was in spring mode and getting greener by the minute. It had a great pool and pool bar, but it was just a little too chilly even for these Minnesotans to swim ;)
On our way to Solomons, the Chesapeake was FULL of crab pots. I picked out one bright red one to show you what they look like. You can really see this one...most of the time they are much more difficult to see. They come in all colors. This one looks kind of like a bomb. The second shot is of the cage attached to that floating bobber and why you don't want to hit them. They'll wrap right around your prop and then you're not going anywhere!
On our last day in Solomons, we headed to the Calvert Marine Museum. It was super interesting and they actually moved the Drum Point Light House right into the museum cove. We toured both the museum and the lighthouse and learned the history of this little community on the Chesapeake. Just like all the communities along the Chesapeake it's history stems from the water that surrounds it. It was a safe, deep harbor in 1812, and helped harbor florilla's of ships prior to attacking the British. It was also the site of the Amphibious Training during WW II. It is still the home of the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Lab. And through the years it's existence was centered around ship building. Below are photos from around Solomons and The Calvert Marine Museum.
Mechanical Bell Striker located on the second floor of the lighthouse. It was used when the weather was foggy and the boats couldn't see the light. It would do a double strike every 15 seconds, so boats that couldn't see the light could atleast hear the bell and run aground on Drum Point.
If a light keeper was married and had a family, they were allowed to live at the light house too. The light house had two bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchen, bell room, study/telephone room. It was actually quite comfortable.
One of the things I was most impressed with with the photography display by Jay Fleming, entitled: Working on the Water. His photography catches the working fisherman on Tangiers and Smith Islands in action. An incredibly beautiful look into the lives of the fisherman on this bay.
More from St. Michaels later~
Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA - Tidewater Yacht Marina, 5/4-6/19
Deltaville, VA - Regatta Pointe Marina, 5/7/19
The End.....of the Atlantic ICW
The cruise up from Coinjock MM49 to Norfolk/Portmouth, MM 0, was quite the trip! We had 12 bridges - seven had to be opened and one lock that was timed with the opening of the bridge right before it. For the most part we've been cruising right along on the ICW without interuption or delays so we weren't expecting so many bridge openings and a lock on our last day on the Atlantic ICW. Crazy!
We arrived in Norfolk, VA on Saturday.....along with just about every other Looper! There is a big Looper Rendezvous in Norfolk this week and a portion of the Loopers that are enroute on the East coast participate. The Rendezvous is a mix of both current and future Loopers. There are seminars that focus on everything from buying a boat, to the reluctant spouse, routes and everything inbetween. Since we've been to a Rendezvous already, we decided to pass on this one and so did many in our marina, but it was great to see so many Looper flags flying when you walked down the docks.
Sunday we met up with the Halvorsons. Jim and Jo have lived in Virginia Beach for forty years but are originally from Hooterville. It was great catching up with them. They took us across the Bay Bridge and tunnel to Cape Charles, a town on the East Coast of the Chesapeake. We had a little lunch and a bump and then headed back to their home. They are in the process of renovating a new home, so we got to see that as well. The day was capped off with a Cinco de Mayo dinner with some of their friends. It's alway so much fun to see friends and family from home while we are on the Loop. The Halvorson's were so gracious and hospitable. Thank you for spending the day showing us around your neck of the woods!
The Beginning - Exploring the Chesapeake Bay
Monday we were suppose to take off for Yorktown but Wallace the Weather Bear got up early and evaluated the wind, wave, tides and weather and canceled our travel day. We were able to stay another day at the marina in Portsmouth, which is always a good thing when they let you stay because of bad weather ;), had a planning pow-wow for our upcoming time on the Chesapeake Bay, made reservations and got some groceries. Sometimes delays aren't a bad thing.
Tuesday was much more hospitable weather-wise and we had a great run up to Deltaville and Regatta Point Marina. It was a great little place and we really enjoyed the laid back vibe. Below are pics from Norfolk/Portsmouth and also from Regatta Point Marina in Deltaville.
We went from downtown in Norfolk/Portsmouth to rustic in Deltaville. We loved the front porch rocking chairs overlooking the marina......
We enjoyed our first stop on the Chesapeake Bay in Deltaville . For years we wondered what it would be like on the Chesapeake. Father Engels told us that Lake Pepin reminded him of a tiny Chesapeake Bay. He was right. They say you can spend season after season on the Chesapeake exploring all it has to offer. Both the East and west coasts have tons of marinas and anchorages and towns and villages that are all about boating and the bay. Deltaville was that kind of place. We look forward to the rest of our stops on the Chesapeake.
River Forest Marina, Belhaven, NC 5/1/19
Alligator River Marina, Alligator River, NC 5/2/19
Coinjock Marina, Coinjock, NC 5/3/19
We've made it half way!
After looking at our route guides a bijillion times, we figured out that at Belhaven, NC we are half way around the Loop, that is from Grafton, IL not Wabasha, MN. We started the real Loop route in Grafton, IL after boating 550 miles down the Mississipi. Feels great to be half Looped!
Here are a few stats at the half way point:
Miles traveled: 3,331
Biggest challenge so far: Skinny water, tides & slack tide timing on the east coast
Up Next on the Loop: Chesapeake Bay, Hudson River, Erie Canal, Canada, Great Lakes, Chicago
River Forest Marina, Belhaven, NC
After crossing the Pamlico Sound, it was a few miles up the river to River Forest Marina. From the minute we pulled into River Forest Marina in Belhaven, NC, we knew if was going to be a unique place. Hank, the dockmaster and Eddie his assistant were there with big smiles. Hank was missing his front tooth, but he assured me he wasn't a redneck....."I'm headed to Grinval (Greenville) tommara to git me my implant."
Hank, is Belhavens unofficial ambassador and was singing the praises of this little gem of a town, which happens to be where the Atlantic ICW originated. To say that Hank was an expert conversationalist would be an understatement. He was johnny on the spot to make dinner reservations for us at the 5 Star restaurant in town, Spoon River and wanted us to take the marina golf cart there since it "was a piece down the road and too far to walk." He kept close tabs on us and even asked me how my nap was......
So not only does Belhaven have Hank to sing it's praises, but the president of the city counsel, Miss Diana, came down on to the docks to shake hands with all the transcients and welcome them to Belhaven. She was a hoot! Southern to her roots!
After we got tied up and we got a text from our friends, John & Karen Swarthout, from Maryland. We met them way back at Legacy Marina in Fort Myers. We've stayed in touch after Legacy and were able to meet up in Belhaven. They had a long, 12 hour travel day, but were game to meet up with us after they arrived at Belhaven. We had drinks and did dinner at Spoon River, the local 5 star and had a chance to catch up. It was so fun to see them and hope that we'll see them when we get to the Chesapeake.
Alligator River Marina, Alligator River, NC
We took off from Belhaven after 8am. It was a later than usual start for us, but I had calculated Alligator River to be only 35 miles. Whoops! It was 52 miles. It was slow going and very narrow on the ICW for about 20 miles, but in that time we came up on three Looper vessels we hadn't met yet. Gammel Dansk, from Redwing, MN, Aurora from Stillwater, MN and Sigrid from Milwaukee, WI. The three had been traveling together since the river system. We conversed on the VHF and then all ended up at Alligator River Marina. It's really a truck stop with a bunch of slips, but a good place to stop before crossing the Albemarle Sound if there is bad whether.
Once we all arrived at the Alligator River Marina, Dana from Misty Pearl, another Looper boat suggested we all do docktails. It was great meeting the midwest Loopers. We all agreed it was strange that we'd hadn't cross paths yet. There were a lot of Loopers at Alligator that night: Misty Pearl, Knights Kingdom, Sigrid, Aurora, Knot Ready, Gammel Dansk and us. It was fun sharing looping stories with each other.
Decision Time - Virginia Cut or Dismal Swamp
We had decided about a month ago that we would definitely be doing the Virgina Cut instead of the Dismal Swamp. Both routes get you to Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA, but the Dismal Swamp is the more historic route, albeit very shallow. Lots of folks on the Looper forum had posted issues with depth and even prop damage. The icing on the cake for us was the kayak gathering that was to take place on the Dismal Swamp pretty much shutting it down for a full day. The Virginia Cut looked much more appealing and no issues with depth so it was a no brainer.
Wallace the Weather Bear, aka Tom, had been keeping track of the weather and knew that the Albemarle Sound would be calm and the wind would be in our favor, so we took off for Coinjock, NC and arrived early afternoon. Our Albemarle crossing was great with no issues. Coinjock Marina is a 1200 ft face dock and restaurant know for it's prime rib. In fact, it's recommended when you make your slip reservations that also make a prime rib reservation. It was a fun over night and we did eat at Coinjocks!
Seapath Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach, NC 4/29/19
Morehead City Yacht Basin, Morehead City, NC 4/30/19
Wrightsville Beach, NC & Morehead City, NC
I just added another day to the not good category……Tom tells folks when they ask about the Loop and spending so much time with his wife that most days are great and very few are not so good. Well this last week I added another day to the not so good category. When I blog, it typically sounds like sunshine and flowers and I know it sounds really trite cause how could you have a bad day when you’re on your boat, the sun is out and it’s 80 degrees, yada, yada, yada, but it happens. Here’s why…..
We decided to travel outside again instead of taking the ICW to Morehead City, the conditions were perfect to take the Atlantic the 80 miles up and avoid numerous bridges and possible delays at Camp Le Juene. We headed out at 6:20am, got 6 miles into the trip and all the sudden, our starboard engine made a pop and then whizzing sound. We pulled back and tried to identify what it could be. Could we proceed on? Do we need to turn around? Tom got down in the engine room and figured out it was our exhaust manifold and we’d need to turn around. We were pretty lucky that we were only six miles out. So we did a u-turn and headed back to the marina.
We got back by 8am and a technician arrived by 10am to help Tom with a new clamp on the manifold and tightened the alternator belt. We got sooooo lucky. All repairs were complete by noon so then we had to decide if we were still going to try to get to Morehead City via the outside that day or not. We decided to go for it. Unfortunately, it was a lot choppier by noon but we bore down and rode the chop for 3 plus hours to the Beaufort Inlet.
By the time we arrived and tied up we were both exhausted, hungry, ornery, a little homesick and had a little PMS (me, not Tom) and weren’t saying much to each other because anything we said to each was irritating! Just being honest. We’d been up since before 5 am and it had been a long day and its never good when you have boat issues, but Tom will tell you, “it’s a boat, one problem will get fixed and it will just be replaced by another.”
After a great meal out (much needed), and a call from my brother, Jimmy, my sister, Jane and a Facetime with my great nieces, Charlotte and Vivi, and Tom talked to his buddies Timmy D, and Piltz, all was back to thumbs up. Sometimes you just have one of those days…..
Below are just a few shots from Wrightsville Beach and Morehead City~
Once again, we must express our condolences to the Zmolek family. Ellen was a wonderful person and she will be greatly missed by all. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.
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