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Back to August 2001

Thursday October 4th, 2001 • Cape Cod Bay

Yesterday we finally left the mouth of the Merrimack River and turned south. At certain points during the last month it didn't seem as if we'd ever get there. It was a long and sometimes trying month. When we returned from our summer trip we hoped that we would be underway again by the middle of September. Well, as the old saying goes, "the best laid plans..."

John, Amy and Roger

Between projects and weather, two weeks became four. We visited friends and family and tried to fathom the horror of September 11th. With only the radio for information I think that we missed a certain degree of the misery that was conveyed by the television images. I don't think the enormity of the attack has fully sunk in.

Project lists expanded as project lists do. Over the month we managed to get a great deal accomplished. First and foremost was the replacement of the holding tank. That was one of those jobs which really ranks up there among "worst jobs". There aren't many other jobs that make you gag. With that done everything else seemed almost pleasant. The steering pedestal was stripped, primed and repainted. Roger did a great job fixing the keel where it had been dinged during a "keel wrap" at our mooring. He also wired the new transducer for the depth sounder. We installed a new steering hub for our autopilot and rewired our bow lights. The yard added radar, a first for us. Most importantly we procured a "can't miss" fishing pole. Look out fish!

Mrs. Block out for a sail.

We did manage to get out for a few sails. The first felt almost like a busman's holiday, heading out to the Isles of Shoales with the Bursaws for Labor Day Evening. I don't know what it is, but every time we sail with them the wind blows like crazy. Once we made the Islands though, we had a great time eating and playing an unusual card game involving five decks of cards. Our second sail was with Roger's mother. Although we had devised a somewhat involved plan to get her from the dock to the boat it was all for naught. Her sprightly ninety year old frame did the job all on its own and she bounded onto the boat from the dock without a backward glance.

Great Notions getting some work done

After four weeks of goodbye dinners, lunches, breakfasts and even a poker game with the old crew we were more than ready to go. That's when the weather intervened. A nor'easter blew in the day we were going to depart. Though it lasted only two days, it screwed up the mouth of the River enough so that we couldn't leave for a full five days. The night before we actually left we heard of the death of a family member. We left, but not without a sense of sadness for the people who Gus leaves behind.

As we sail from Gloucester towards Plymouth we feel like the boat is fit and ready for the task ahead of it. We are simultaneously anxious and excited. The trip is a long one but we'll take it one day at a time. We know the destination is worthwhile.

Saturday, October 6th, 2001 • Bassett's Island, Buzzard's Bay, MA

We have had several very eventful days. Thursday's sail from Gloucester started off as a wonderful single beat towards Plymouth in 15 knots and beautiful blue skies. By mid afternoon the wind was exactly on our nose blowing a good 18-22 with a fairly steep chop. By 4 or so it was obvious that we would not make Plymouth before sunset. Using our new radar, a spot light that conveniently did not run out of juice until we reached the inner harbor, and careful teamwork, we were able to make the five mile run from the sea buoy into the harbor in the dark. There is definitely truth to the adage that one should never enter a port for the first time in the dark, especially one where you see gulls standing on sand a mere 20 yards from your boat as you flash your spot light looking for cans in the dark!

Friday started off great as we headed for the Cape Cod Canal. Our good fortune continued as we had a wind shift allowing us to sail all the way to the east entrance of the canal in very brisk winds. As we had planned, we entered the canal at just the right time allowing us the maximum push from the current. Our speed over ground reached eight knots as we flew toward the West End of the canal and Buzzard's Bay. Being very familiar with the effects of opposing wind and tide from our experience with the Merrimack River we both knew that a certain amount of badness was lurking at the other end. With a 20-25 knot Southwesterly blowing up Buzzard's Bay straight into the current that had been so much help to us on our way through the canal we were going to have to pay for our ride. Unfortunately we were absolutely right. Before we got into the Bay we were experiencing water over the bow as big breaking chop of at least 6 five feet smashed into us. Amy did a great job getting us through this nightmare. At the point where we were unable to make any further headway and our bow was rising and falling like a wild horse, I took over the helm and gave the engine nearly full throttle to drive us through the worst of the mess. We finally broke the grip of the breaking waves and turned into Red Brook Harbor and the lee of Bassett's Island.

Before we settled in for the evening we checked NOAA weather for the status of a blow expected to arrive the following afternoon. The report now called for 25-35 knots all night with the full effects of the front possibly reaching 45-60 knots the next morning. We decided to put out a second anchor, remove the bimini and dodger, and generally batten down the hatches before dinner. Having done so we had cold spaghetti and called it a day.

Just as forecast, the wind in the rigging woke us shortly after midnight. We took turns checking on our anchors throughout the night and into the next day. We held beautifully and although we only experienced a high of 39 knots as the front passed through, the anchoring drill was good practice for what we will have ahead of us.

It's Saturday evening, the sky is clear again and the wind is nearly calm. Tomorrow we are hoping for another visit from the Walshes and then we are off down the bay for either our offshore passage to Cape May or the inside route down Long Island Sound, through the East River and out to Sandy Hook. I called the New York Coast Guard today and learned that there are no restrictions on passage down the East River and past the end of Manhattan during daylight hours. My guess now is that given all the strong winds and big seas that we have recently experienced, it will take a very, very good forecast for the two of us to be happy with the outside route to Cape May. Stay tuned!

Pictures to follow

Sunday, October 7th, 2001 • Bassett's Island, Buzzard's Bay, MA

Happily it was a quiet day here on Great Notions. The sun was shining and showers were on the agenda. We pulled up the remaining anchor and headed in to Parker's Boatyard fairly early. The strong winds had scared away all the holiday weekend boaters so we were able to tie alongside the fuel dock for several hours while we filled our various tanks, showered and visited with friends.

Our visitors, the Walshes, always tell stories about the sailing trips we took together when I was a kid. It's a wonder that I still sail at all. "Do you remember the time I dislocated my shoulder trying to pick up a mooring in Plymouth Harbor?"; "Do you remember the trip we took to Maine while your mother was in a cast?" "Do you remember the time the head exploded?" Arghh! They were always good humored during adversity, which probably explains why I do still sail.

After our visit we headed back out to the anchorage at Bassett's. Roger completed the reinstallation of the autopilot, thereby curing the final electronic issue we had. Hope this status lasts a while. I spent the afternoon making industrial strength whole wheat bread. It rose to enormous proportions. I had to take scissors and trim around the edges of the pans before I put them in to bake. Eek!

Tomorrow we head towards Cuttyhunk.

Monday, October 8th, 2001 • Bassett's Island, Buzzard's Bay, MA

Cuttyhunk was not to be. We awoke to 39 degrees and a southwest wind blowing 20-30 knots. So much for the weather forecast. Instead of heading out into the lousy weather we put on all the clothes we had and spent the day reading. Actually I read and Roger moped. We lit our jumbo trawler lamp and hovered around it, pretending it was a fireplace. All in all not one of our better days. Despite all we know about outdoor survival strategies, we could not resist cracking open the three bourbon nips remaining from Roger's mother's visit. They cheered the early evening hours, giving us a false sense of warmth. You take it where you can get it, you know.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2001 • Newport, RI

We headed out into a cold but mercifully windless morning. The sun was shining, the seas were negligible, the forecast was good and the cat was happy. Joy. We were so hopeful that we plotted a tentative course past Block Island and towards Cape May, New Jersey. Silly rabbits. Did the weather degenerate? You bet! It didn't degenerate in a horrifying way, just in a way that made us change our plans once again. At around 2 p.m. the wind chose to defy NOAA and pipe up to around 25 knots from the SW. This isn't necessarily a bad thing unless you find yourself in Buzzards Bay where the chop is notorious. Well, Buzzards Bay is where we found ourselves and our afternoon became a slog ("slog" is, I believe, a generally accepted sailing term which means that you are killing yourself to make little or no progress.) All thoughts of heading offshore vaporized and making it to Newport before nightfall became our new, albeit less exciting, goal. The "before nightfall" part of the goal was particularly important because our spotlight had crapped out during our Plymouth landfall, several nights previously. We knew we were almost to our destination when we were passed by an extremely large, elegant and fast moving sailing yacht, blue in color. We were later to discover that Newport is a haven for large blue luxury sailing vessels.

The sun set as we surfed our way around the corner into Newport Harbor. We picked up a mooring in the almost dark at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Brenton Cove without hitting a thing.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2001 • Newport, RI

The forecast today was for 15-20 out of the SW. Not so bad if the seas are reasonable. Before we could leave we had to tie up in town long enough for Roger to buy a new spotlight. This errand turned out to be somewhat of a sporting event. The man running the dock said we could tie up for free till 9:30. This was at 8:30. I stayed with the boat as Roger took off towards J.T.'s (the local chandlery). Unfortunately they did not have a light, but called around until they discovered that Ace Hardware did. The fellow working the counter lent Roger his bicycle for the cross-town dash. Roger appeared at the dock, light in hand, at 9:20. Ten points for tenacity and speed.

The reason we even stuck our nose out into the harbor was somewhat irrational. One of the crew had a dream the previous night, which involved the arrival of ice in Newport Harbor and the subsequent pulling of the boat for the winter. Needless to say our journey was brief, as the seas were more than we were willing to put up with. Another night at Ida Lewis YC.

Thursday, October 11th, 2001 • Fishers Island, NY

Today we finally made some headway. After a few unadvertised gusts in the 20-30 knot range the wind settled down, as did the seas. Because the wind was still from the southwest we spent a good deal of time tacking and motorsailing, but after the last few days the conditions were really pretty nice. We had finally come to the conclusion that we would be making our trip to New Jersey via Long Island Sound and not outside of Long Island. Not a bad thing. We timed the current in the Race (the current filled entry to Long Island and Fishers Island Sounds) so that we would get a great deal of help as we passed from Block Island Sound, through Watch Hill Passage, and into Fishers Island Sound. There was enough current, in fact, that we were sailing at between 7 and 8 knots at times. We took several turns on the jib to get a bit of control back. At about 4 p.m. we picked up a mooring in West Harbor on Fishers Island. It was a beautiful little harbor, which we shared with only two other transients. I gather that October is probably the best time to cruise Long Island Sound if you want a little elbowroom. We ate humus for dinner for the second night in a row.

Friday, October 12th, 2001 • The Thimble Islands, CT

We had our second beautiful day in a row. This is a great thing to us. We left Fishers Island at 7:30, into a current we knew would be foul for a better part of the day. Despite that fact it was still a great day. The sun was out, the weather was warm and we were making headway. The catamaran we sailed "with" yesterday, and moored next to last night, disappeared slowly over the horizon ahead of us as we plugged our way in the current. We finished the day by picking up a NYYC mooring in the Thimble Islands. The Thimbles are beautiful little islands off the coast of Connecticut. They remind me of the Deer Isle Thorofare in Maine. Roger, a Maine fan, disagrees. It was warm enough that I was able to sit around in shorts to watch the sunset. Ooh! We are down to rice and bean sorts of dinners (though good rice and beans) and I think Roger is beginning to dream of something a little less vegetarian.

Saturday, October 13th, 2001 • Oyster Bay Harbor, NY

We were treated to more sunshine today. No complaints were heard from the crew. Our goal for the day was to make it to one of the big harbors on the south shore of Long Island Sound (or the north shore of Long Island, depending upon your perspective) to put us within a half day of NYC. We are in need of food, water and showers and City Island NY is the last place to easily provision before we tackle the coast of New Jersey. We motored most of the day because the following wind wasn't strong enough to sail.


At this point I should update you on our fishing exploits. Today we had our first "hit". Unfortunately our line wasn't strong enough to handle the job and we lost lure #3. The first two were lost in ways we won't go into. Once we replace the lures and get some stronger test line I'm sure we'll knock ‘em dead.

We eventually had enough of a breeze to get some sailing in as we approached Oyster Bay. We have named the land surrounding the Sound "the land of the lawns". Oyster Bay is a perfect example of this. Landscapers must make a fortune in this neck of the woods. The harbor is a wonderful spot with a great anchorage. It was a night of Prairie Home Companion and crackers and cheese for dinner.

Sunday, October 14th, 2001 • City Island, NY

We arrived at the North Minneford Marina at City Island at around noon. We hadn't stayed at a dock for several weeks so this was most exciting. We packed up all our laundry and empty backpacks and headed out to do our thing. City Island Avenue is the main drag bisecting the mile- long island, which is considered part of the Bronx. It has everything that a smelly, hungry cruiser could desire. Our first stop was the laundromat, where we stuffed two washers full, then we headed towards the grocery store. The IGA was a great find. The array of food in this tiny little supermarket was mind boggling. Every ethnicity was represented. The Asian fellow running the cash register was a hoot. He gave each of us two chocolates and wished us a safe voyage. We met "Puffin", a 36-foot Morris, in the condiment aisle. You can always recognize a cruiser. They are the ones pushing carriages with empty Bean bags in them, or the ones wearing empty backpacks. Puffin was at our Marina and was headed out the next day, as we were. I'm sure we'll continue to see them in our travels.


We headed back to the boat with our laundry and groceries in tow, with visions of showers in our heads. With the boat and us finally clean we sat down to a dinner of CHICKEN!

Monday, October 15th, 2001 • Sandy Hook, NJ

We're not at Sandy Hook exactly, we're at Atlantic Highlands. We wanted to be at Sandy Hook but "Horseshoe Cove", our destination, seems to have eroded itself into extinction. With the wind blowing 25 knots from the west there was no protection from the seas of Sandy Hook Bay so we headed behind the breakwater at Atlantic Highlands. We found plenty of company. There were eventually ten transients at anchor, including Puffin and our catamaran from Long Island Sound.

Our trip from City Island through Hell's Gate, down the East River and over to Sandy Hook was terrific. We timed the current correctly and were whisked south effortlessly. In Hells Gate we were passed by a little MacGregor sailboat from Atkinson NH. The MacGregor is not generally thought of as a long distance cruiser, but these folks weren't going to let that stop them. They careened past us with big smiles on their faces, dreaming of the warmer weather, which awaits them.


I guess, to those who live in or frequent the city, lower Manhattan looks much different since September 11th. For those of us who are less familiar with the skyline the absence of the Trade Center Towers is not as visually striking. What we did notice was the smell of dust and the heavy security presence. There were NYC Police boats and Coast Guard boats everywhere. The parade of barges was a telltale sign of the clean-up efforts.

Once we were past the Battery and down into the Narrows, the sailing, in combination with the current, was very speedy. At a few points we saw nine knots. We arrived at our destination at 1:30, which is very early for us. Tomorrow's destination may be Manasquan Inlet, on the Jersey shore, but the weather is sounding a bit iffy so who knows.

Statue of Liberty

Tuesday, October 16th, 2001 • Sandy Hook, NJ

The weather forecast is not so hot and the actual conditions are not much better. If Manasquan were a reliable destination we might have given it a shot, but it's not, so here we sit. The trouble with Manasquan is that it is a shallow inlet (when seas/tide/wind are not aligned it can be crappy) and the anchorage is VERY small and shallow. A gale is forecast for tomorrow and we don't want to be somewhere we're uncomfortable. Instead we're working on the log and fixing a seal on the head (potty). With the weather forecast as it is, Thursday may be our next weather window to make a break.

Friday, October 19th, 2001 • Cape May, NJ

Our last log entry left us preparing for a cold front in Sandy Hook NJ. That was three days and about 120 miles ago. The front arrived at exactly 10:12 Tuesday night. It hit like a train and the wind howled for the next 36 hours. Nobody left the harbor and only a few people came in, looking pretty battered. We spent the time repairing stuff, baking bread, sewing fender covers and being glad we weren't trying to sail around New Jersey. The forecast held a ray of hope. Thursday was supposed to start out blustery from the northwest, with the wind gradually diminishing for 24 hours. That was just the weather we needed to make our overnight passage to Cape May.

The first leg of our trip Thursday morning involved getting out from behind Sandy Hook. It was the nastiest leg and happily the shortest, at only about two hours. The wind was blowing 25-30 and we became very wet. Once we turned the corner and headed south though, life was good. As promised, the wind dropped throughout the day and by 10 p.m. we were motoring. The radar got its first real use. I found it difficult to try to maintain a course while simultaneously trying to figure out what the radar screen was trying to tell me. Once we turned on the autopilot and I could concentrate on comparing what I saw in the distance to what was on the screen I was better off.

Atlantic City definitely had a dream-like quality. It was very strange to see it appear out of the darkness, a bit like a giant UFO. After Atlantic City the traffic pretty much dropped to nothing, which was nice. We arrived at the entrance to Cape May at about 8 a.m. After a breakfast of leftover tuna casserole we went to bed.

In the afternoon we took a little walk around the harborfront. Cape May is a sportfishing mecca. There were hundreds of very expensive powerboats with lots of fish capturing equipment. We even saw a mobile fish cleaning operation.

The day ended with a splash. Due to a bar-b-que grill malfunction the salmon we bought on our walk ended up in the drink. We ate coleslaw for dinner.

Saturday, October 20th, 2001 • Cohansey River, NJ

Today was sort of a sandwich day. Crazy on either end and quiet in the middle. The first task of the day was to round the tip of Cape May, dodging its shoals, and make it through the entrance of Delaware Bay. The wind had returned, the navigation was dicey and the seas at the mouth of the Bay were nasty. This spelled WORK. Add to this mix 1,000 crazed Saturday morning fishermen in high-speed boats and I'd rather have slept in. As you might have guessed, we survived, damp but victorious. The cat was mighty unhappy though.

The middle of the day proved to be rather uneventful. We were passed by a variety of ships making their way up and down the Bay, including the Frances L., banana purveyor. At about 3 p.m. we made our destination.

The Cohansey River was a wonderful surprise. It's a river that meanders through a salt marsh before spilling out into Delaware Bay. It's deep and uncrowded. There was one other sailboat anchored in the first bend and we ended up anchoring downstream of her. After our rough morning we were glad to be in early and looked forward to chilling out in the cockpit. Occasionally a fishing boat would motor by on its way home, but it was quiet for the most part. We had been unwinding for MAYBE 15 minutes when we heard the noise that we hoped never to hear. MEOOOWWWW!!! Our hearts became ice as our heads spun in search of Milo. "WHERE'S THE CAT?!? The cat, it turns out was sound asleep on a settee down below. We looked at one another both still panicked. Could it be a crazed seagull? At that very moment we saw IT. Like a leaf in the wind a little black calico kitty went floating by with the outgoing tide. OHMYGOD!!! GETTHEKITTY!!!!! As Roger began to unlock the outboard engine to put it on the dinghy for the rescue I panicked. "The kitty'll drown if you don't go RIGHT NOW!" I sent poor Roger downriver with only the dinghy and it's lousy oars. He was able to hoist the cat into the boat about two hundred yards away and then he began the row home. This is where things began to degenerate. Despite an outwardly placid look, the current was REALLY moving. Roger had trashed his back during the morning's particularly nasty anchor raising and he now found himself rowing like a lunatic and making NO headway. I started letting out the anchor rode so that the "mother ship" would drift back towards him. I was able to narrow the distance, but not enough. "Throw me a line!!" Naturally the tossed line didn't make it and promptly sank. "Tie something to it!!" Out it went again with a floaty cushion attached. Our hero was able to hang onto the line until I pulled him alongside. The irony of the last portion of this tale is that we just spent $100 for a lifesling (luxury line with floaty thing attached) which is hanging prominently from our stern rail.

Where did this kitty come from you ask? There was no sign of activity on the sailboat ahead of us so I assumed it wasn't theirs. Instead my mind thought terrible things like "could one of those fishermen have thrown kitty overboard?". I didn't think, "could the neighbor boat folks be napping?" It was the obvious answer. Roger (with the outboard now affixed) took the dinghy up to the neighbor boat while I dried the cat off with a bath towel. After knocking on the hull for a while he roused the people. After a panicked look for their cats they discovered that indeed they were short one. Roger came to fetch the wayward cat and returned home a bit later with a bottle of wine. It seems the folks on Rayga have had a rough couple of days. Their engine crapped out on them during their overnight around New Jersey and they had to be towed into Atlantic City by a fishing boat. They had been catching up on some much-needed sleep when Moses the cat took his false step.

We were finally able to get back to our relaxing at just about sunset. All's well that ends well.

Sunday, October 21, 2001 • Veasey Cove, Bohemia River, MD

Roger and Milo relaxing

Today we made the Chesapeake! Yay, and it's about time. In anticipation I wore shorts and sandals. Other than that milestone it was a pretty quiet day after yesterday's excitement. We left the Cohansey about an hour after Rayga and encountered her just freeing herself from a sandbar at the mouth of the river. Hope it wasn't the start of another tough day for them.

We entered the C&D Canal just after noon with a fair current. The C&D is like a huge Cape Cod Canal. It's about 12 miles long and has six bridges that span it. We were passed by "Pretty Penny", trawler folks from Maine who we met in Sandy Hook. We didn't encounter much commercial traffic, which was nice, and the passage was fairly painless.

With the Chesapeake we entered the shallow zone. We anchored for the night in Veasey Cove at the mouth of the Bohemia River. In only 7 feet of water! It actually felt like we were anchoring in the middle of a bay. By the end of the evening about ten boats were anchored similarly. We recognized several of the other boats, including Puffin who we had first met at City Island, NY. It's funny how you lose track of people and assume they are well ahead of you, then suddenly they turn up again. It's sort of like the game of leapfrog.

Monday, October 22, 2001 • Dobbins Island, MD

We got a realllllly late start today. We intended to get off early but it was not to be. We apparently spent the night pirouetting around our anchor rode, so that when we tried to leave it took us two hours to unwrap ourselves. Shallow water, line rode, and a fin keel can be a bad mix.

We had to put the pedal to the metal when we finally got out of our fix. We wanted to be within a half day of Annapolis so that we could shower before meeting friends for dinner tomorrow night. We made 40 miles is seven hours of motoring, which is good for us. Thank goodness for a helpful current. We found Dobbins Island right where it should be. A fine spot and a nice sunset.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001 • Annapolis, MD

Building in Annapolis, MD

We made landfall in Annapolis by noon. It's one of my favorite places and I had really been looking forward to this stop. I was not to be disappointed. The city is as beautiful as ever. It's also a good time to be here as a boater because the crowds have pretty much gone. It sounds like there's another front on the way so we'll probably be here for a few days. If you have to be stranded, this is the place to be.

The first item on our agenda was to clean up the boat a bit in case our friends Barbara and Rod want to actually come aboard. That done, we headed for the showers, our first in about ten days. Last on the day's chore list was laundry. By that time we were REALLY ready for our night out on the town. We met our friends at a local drinking establishment and then headed out for some fine seafood and companionship. A fine day, all in all.

Wednesday, October 24th, 2001 • Annapolis, MD

Today was another chore day. Grocery shopping was a particular torture this time around. We walked several miles to the supermarket and then had a hard time finding the shuttle back into town. We spent a wonderful time at Fawcett's ogling the marine supplies. We got some boat cards made up. Sister Cath made us a nifty design and the local Sir Speedy was able to print them for us. The highlight of the day was steak on the grill. Roger was able to cure the unwanted quick release feature of the grill and we actually got to eat the steaks. The front is supposed to arrive tonight sometime.

Thursday, October 25th, 2001 • Annapolis, MD

The front is not much to speak of. Everybody seems to have hung around in anticipation and are now scratching their heads. We spent the day doing trip planning and changing the oil. We're going to head out into the chilly weather bright and early in the a.m.

Cold Roger

OR... roger dreaming

Friday, October 26th, 2001 • Mill Creek, Solomons, MD

BRRRR! We put two reefs in the main and headed out into a great northwest wind. After rectifying a small navigational glitch we were headed south once again. The wind was blowing 20-25 and we made terrific time. Our initial destination was ditched as we flew down the coast. We covered over fifty miles while getting only slightly smacked around. We wound up in a creek near Solomons and fell into bed shortly after dinner.

Saturday, October 27th, 2001 • Mill Creek, South of Great Wicomico River, VA

Breezy day on the Bay

Once again we headed out into the cold. The northwest wind is still holding so we're getting while the getting is good. Today we rounded the mouth of the Potomac. We (read "Amy") were a little anxious about rounding the Potomac because it has a reputation for being somewhat nasty when winds and currents are opposing. We made a really big hoop around the mouth, adding probably five miles onto our day but we didn't suffer any great nastiness. Things did get a little blowy on the way into the River. At one point it was blowing 30 knots but we were reefed enough so that it was only a minor irritation. A bigger problem was trying to see the day markers to get us into our anchorage. As we like to say "it will all become clear" and so it did. We were anchored by 5 p.m., enjoyed our weekly Prairie Home Companion and pasta party, and declared Sunday a day of rest.

Monday, October 29th, 2001 • North West Branch, Severn River, Mobjack Bay, VA

After our day off we were rested and ready for action. The weather had moderated to the point where we found ourselves motoring. Our day's journey took us past the Rappahannock and Piankatank Rivers, around New Point Comfort and into Mobjack Bay. Our destination, the OTHER Severn River, was rustic and beautiful. Because it is more than six miles from the mouth of the Bay to the anchorage we had it all to ourselves. The only noises we encountered were animal in origin; barking dogs and wee little shrimp grazing on our hull.

Welcome to Hampton Roads

Tuesday, October 30th, 2001 • Norfolk, VA

Well, it has taken us almost a month to get here, home of "Mile 0" of the Intracoastal Waterway, but who's counting, right?

Hampton Roads is the name of the area where the bottom of Chesapeake Bay, the mouth of the James River, the Intracoastal and the Atlantic all meet. It is bordered by Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth Virginia and is a veritable beehive of activity. The first thing a savvy newcomer might notice is that aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines surround them. After that you would notice that there are lots of military helicopters, each one taking its turn to fly very low over your vessel. After you grow accustomed to the atmosphere, it becomes a pretty interesting experience. We were one of many tiny little cruising boats trying to steer clear of ships which could flatten us without a backwards glance.

Our destination was the Norfolk Boatworks. My cousin Jill, Norfolk resident, had arranged dockage at this friendly local marina, and we found our way there with only the briefest of groundings on the way in. Carl, who in turn introduced us to Rob, the boss, met us at the dock. Rob introduced us to Molly the dog and that pretty well covered it.

Which way to Norfolk Boat Works?

Jill arrived after a short while and whisked me off to fetch our temporary vehicle. Young Dylan, Jill's son, felt I was somewhat suspect so I was relegated to the back of her truck for the duration of this trip. My buddy Bill H. will be excited to learn that the vehicle, which was so kindly lent to us, was a Dodge Dakota pickup truck. It was a truck in every sense of the word. I got more of a workout driving it than I do manning the helm in 30 knots of wind.

We spent the evening doing laundry, showering and eating spinach pizza at Jill's nice warm apartment. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2001 • Norfolk, VA

Happy Halloween! Dylan headed off to school this morning prepared to party. He was not entirely clear he wanted to don his Agumon costume, but saw the light once he got to the fete. I wasn't too clear on who Agumon was until just last night. Now I know him to be one of the very popular Digimon characters of TV fame. Of course!

Roger and I had no party to attend unfortunately. We spent the morning navigating around Norfolk in our truck buying stuff. It was a wonder we were speaking by the time it was all over. I'm sure that if we had had a map of some sort we would have been better off.

We learned this map lesson again in the afternoon as we followed Jill & Dylan to Hampton to visit a friend of Roger's. Hampton is the starting spot for the Caribbean 1500, which is a sailboat rally. A rally is sort of an organized way to get from Point A to Point B. Lots of people who are going offshore for the first time participate because the organizers put an emphasis on preparation and safety. Roger's friend Bill is bringing his boat south with the rally and we wanted to get together before he left. Who better to get us to Hampton than Cousin Jill, the local? It would seem that Jill hadn't actually been to Hampton recently and we managed to get distinctly lost. We did ok following her through several tunnels and over a couple of bridges, but somehow we managed to get turned around and found ourselves hopelessly mired in a REALLY lousy section of Newport News. Jill was obviously distressed. Once we located the Hampton City limits she careened into the first convenience store to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Norfolk Boat Works

We finally located the Hampton Municipal Dock and Bill. There are about fifty boats participating in this Rally and each one was "loaded", as you would say in the car-buying world. Several of the boats we recognized. One, Camaraderie, we had passed on our overnight around New Jersey. The Dashew's who write about cruising for the technologically inclined own another, Beowulf. We realized we had seen them exiting the Fox Isle Thorofare this summer. Bill's boat, a 46 foot Alden, was beautiful and ready for action. We spent the afternoon talking about the cruising way of life and drinking a little wine. All in all a good visit. Fair Winds Bill!

Jill and Amy in Norfolk Harbor

To November 2001

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