SO OUR JOURNEY HAS ENDED….

Post # 57:  SO OUR JOURNEY HAS ENDED….Day 409, June 13, 2015:  On Board:  Tom McNichol, Hank Koningisor, Paul Coates, Pat Coates, Jenny Koningisor, Dave Luciano, Jake Mycofsky, Red Southerton, Bill Burke, Jack Kelly, Mary Chevalier, Bob Hall, Louise Bombardieri, Jim K.

So our journey has ended.  What did it all mean?  What did I learn?  Undoubtedly those questions can only be answered when the trip can be viewed through the prism of time. But here are a few random thoughts:

First, my faith in people has been re-nourished. Virtually everyone we met, both on and off the water, was friendly, went out of their way to help us if we needed it, and added positively to our experience. I wondered how we might be received in areas stereotyped as “Deliverance country” – Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi – especially since my hair and beard were out of control by that time. The people could not have been friendlier, even when we stopped in local “redneck” bars for a meal or a beer.

Second, rural America is unique and more than worthy of exploration. In order to have a balanced perspective on this diverse country of ours, one must venture out of the urban areas and into the truly rural outposts that make up the vast geographic majority of our land mass. There is no better way to do it than via the huge system of navigable waterways – doing so takes you to places you would never otherwise go – river towns, farm towns, and some of the forgotten backwaters of our country – all have their own unique story to tell.

Third, our country is astoundingly beautiful. I rode a bicycle across the country with my daughter Jenny about 10 years ago, and we experienced incredible scenery which included mountains, deserts, plains, and forests. However, the scenery along the oceans, bays, estuaries, lakes, rivers, and canals is incomparable. The sunsets and sunrises reflecting of the water and the marshlands are like no other.

Lastly, boating is a unique, fun, exhilarating, and challenging pastime. The water can be unforgiving and must be respected every minute, but the rewards make it more than worthwhile. Except for bluewater sailing, the Great Loop includes every type of boating environment imaginable – open oceans, bays, estuaries, rivers, lakes, canals, locks. It also includes virtually every type of boating challenge imaginable – navigation, wind, river currents, tidal currents, fog, narrow channels, shallow water, shoals, obstructions, debris, docking, undocking, anchoring, tight maneuvering. However, in part, that’s what makes the Great Loop so alluring and exciting. Most of it is in protected waters, and it is quite manageable by taking one day at a time and making smart decisions regarding weather and local conditions.

So – on to some statistics regarding our Great Loop voyage:

We passed through 20 states and two other countries – (three if you count Key West, which at times felt like another world…).

A total of 45 friends and family rode on the Joint Adventure for a portion of the trip – of those, 15 people were on for multiple segments, including Paul who was on for 2/3 of the voyage and was a wonderful shipmate – I couldn’t have done the trip without him. Four other people joined the trip 4 different times. While managing the trip in this way added to the complexity and required us to maintain somewhat of a schedule, the rewards of sharing the experience and of having so many close friends on board with us enriched the experience immeasurably. Surprisingly, we never missed a rendezvous point during the entire trip.

We traveled well over 7,000 miles – 7,427 to be exact. Incredibly, we averaged just shy of 5 miles per gallon of diesel fuel – amazing mileage for a 34′ cruiser with twin diesels. We used a total of 1544 gallons of fuel, which cost a total of $6,520 – not bad for 13 1/2 months of cruising, especially when the cost is divided among those on board at any given time. The highest price we paid was $6.06 per US gallon in Canada, while the lowest was $2.80/gallon in Norfolk, Va.

We navigated through a total of 144 locks of all sizes and shapes – these included two “lift locks” (in which the entire chamber of water – like a giant aquarium with the boat in it – is raised or lowered), one marine railway (in which the boat is lifted out of the water and travels up or down on a platform on rails), commercial locks built for oceangoing vessels (such as on the St. Lawrence Seaway), and tiny, historic locks built in the 1800’s in which the Joint Adventure barely fit. The change in elevation by each lock ranged from 2 feet to 7 stories.

Various people have asked what area we liked best, and what were our scariest times. The first question is very hard – certainly there is no place like the Bahamas, so I would have to rate that first. A close second would be Canada – the Chambly Canal, the Tent Severn Waterway, the Rideau Canal, Georgian Bay, and the North Channel are all recognized as some of the best cruising areas in the world. The eastern shore of Lake Michigan – with its enormous sand dunes, wonderful freshwater beaches, and unique harbors and towns – was especially interesting and fun. The “Big Bend” of Florida (the curved part that transitions from the panhandle to the Peninsula) was also really interesting, with its rural towns, wild rivers, and wildlife – swimming with manatees in the wild in Crystal River was certainly a highlight. The Florida Keys are also fun and unique, and of course Key West is in a class by itself.

Unquestionably our scariest moments were the 250 miles we traveled on the Mississippi, when the water had just risen 20 feet above normal due to heavy rains 150 miles upriver. We literally ran a slalom course dodging debris including entire trees rushing down the river in 5-6 knot currents. The scariest moment was when a red buoy up ahead of us suddenly disappeared, sucked under by the current, only to pop back up violently as we passed by it. A 600′ long commercial tow that we were passing at the time hailed me on the radio to warn me. For a variety of reasons, we chose to start down the Mississippi the day the river peaked. The next day, a tugboat got turned sideways in the river, swamped, and sank. The tree crewmen were rescued, but the river was closed for a day or so while they tried to locate the sunken tug in the opaque, muddy water.

Other moments that grabbed our full attention were shoals and shallow areas, often unmarked, particularly in the ICW in the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina and in the New Jersey ICW. However, whenever it seemed prudent, we planned our transit through shallow areas or areas prone to shoaling during high tide cycles. We did not run aground the entire trip, in part due to our choice of a shallow-draft boat for this trip (it is still fairly easy to run aground – you just have to work a little harder at it…). The shallow draft allowed us to go places where other boats couldn’t or wouldn’t go.

So here are some pictures from our final run from Hull, Ma. through Boston Harbor and to our permanent dockage on the Charles River in Cambridge:

My Dad cleaning the windows on the Joint Adventure as we get ready for our final run of the Great Loop

My Dad cleaning the windows on the Joint Adventure as we get ready for our final run of the Great Loop

We stayed in Hull, about 15 miles south of Boston, the night before our final run to the our home port on the Charles River. Fifteen people who had joined us for various segments of the Great Loop drove to Hull and joined us for our final run.

We stayed in Hull, about 15 miles south of Boston, the night before our final run to the our home port. Fifteen people who had joined us for various segments of the Great Loop drove to Hull and joined us for our final run. From left to right:  Mary Chevalier, Tom McNichol, Jake Mycofsky, Louise Bombardieri.

My Dad & Louise enjoying the ride

My Dad & Louise enjoying the ride

A welcome sight!  In the background is Boston Light, the second oldest operating lighthouse in North America. Many years ago, when my kids and their cousins were little, we were out exploring the harbor in a motorboat. I stopped to point out the beauty of Boston Light, explaining that many artists come to paint the scene, claiming that it was likely the most painted lighthouse in the world. After a brief moment, one of the kids asked:  "How many coats of paint do you think it's gotten?"

A welcome sight! In the background is Boston Light, the second oldest operating lighthouse in North America. Many years ago, when my kids and their cousins were little, we were out exploring the harbor in a motorboat. I stopped to point out the beauty of Boston Light, explaining that many artists come to paint the scene, claiming that it was likely the most painted lighthouse in the world. After a brief moment, one of the kids asked: “How many coats of paint do you think it has?”

BOSTON!!! - 13 1/2 months later!

APPROACHING BOSTON!!! – 13 1/2 months later!

Our 144th lock!  Entering the Charles River! Note Bill Burke expertly managing the lines, a skill which earned him the (self-proclaimed) title of Mariner of the Year.

Our 144th lock! Entering the Charles River! Note Bill Burke expertly managing the lines, a skill which earned him the (self-proclaimed) title of Mariner of the Year last summer.

Our home port and our permanent dockage on the Charles River!

Our home port and our permanent dockage on the Charles River!

Celebrating completion of the Great Loop! From left to right:

Celebrating completion of the Great Loop at our dockage with beer and Champaign!

On the boat, from left to right:

From left to right: On the bridge:  Red Southerton, Hank Koningisor, Tom McNichol;   On the deck:  Jack Kelly, Mary Chevalier, Chrissie Bell, Elissa Mycofsky, Louise Bombardieri, Pat Coates, Jake Mycofsky, Paul Coates, Dave Luciano;  On the dock:  Jim K, Bob Hall, Jim Small, Chrissie Bell (Jenny Koningisor is taking the picture)

Trish welcoming me home...wait, what's that behind her back?

Trish welcoming me home…wait, what’s that behind her back?

 

YIKES!! A SCISSORS!

YIKES!! A SCISSORS!

A year's worth of beard gone in a flash!

A year’s worth of beard gone in a flash!

So our journey has ended, and along with it the Great Loop Adventure blog. My goal was to try to share the experience as best I could with those who might be interested in following the voyage. My challenge now is to transition back to real life – YIKES!!!

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HOMEWARD BOUND!

Post # 56:  HOMEWARD BOUND!  Day 406;  June 11, 2015.  On Board:  Tom McNichol, Hank (my Dad), Kate Koningisor (sis), Jim K.

First and foremost, Trish is recovering well from the surgery on her leg. She’ll be on crutches for another five weeks and can’t drive until late August, but she’s tough and resilient and doing well.  Her wonderful friends have been incredible, showering her with attention, well-wishes, food, visits, flowers, fruit – just amazing.  Thank you to everyone!

So we drove back to Manasquan, NJ last Thursday, a week after Trish’s surgery, to retrieve the Joint Adventure. We stopped in New York City on our way through and picked up my sister Kate who planned to ride with us for the next three days.  The forecast for Friday was not good, but we decided to leave very early hoping that we might be able to make the three hour sprint through the open ocean into the Hudson River before the seas kicked up.  Bad decisions make good stories (fortunately, this story isn’t TOO good…). We emerged from the inlet into 6-8 foot seas.  For the first time on the entire trip, we turned back and returned to the dock. So we spent the day in Manasquan, exploring and going to a movie.  Here are some pictures:

Hoffman's Marina in Manasquan is a short distance from the inlet, so there is a powerful current that makes docking maneuvers quite tricky, particularly when there is also a strong crosswind. My Dad is holding the boat in place while we untie the myriad of lines.

Hoffman’s Marina in Manasquan is a short distance from the inlet, so there is a powerful current that makes docking maneuvers quite tricky, particularly when there is also a strong crosswind. My Dad holding on while we untie.  Don’t let that piling get away!!

Kate cooking dinner for us -  she's used to more space in the kitchen, but still served a gourmet meal!

Kate cooking dinner for us – she’s used to more space in the kitchen, but still served a gourmet meal!

Dinner, followed by a poker game for BIG stakes - 5 cent anty, raises to a quarter

Dinner, followed by a poker game for BIG stakes – 5 cent anty, raises to a quarter

The wind Saturday morning was calm, but predicted to increase to 20 knots in the morning with rain. So we again left very early (6:15), and this time it worked – although we ran through heavy rain and fog, the 5′ swells were wide and gentle and we beat the wind into the Hudson River. The wind started to increase as we passed Sandy Hook, and we had whitecaps in the Hudson by the time we reached Manhattan. But we made it to New York!  Here are some pictures:

Kate can do more than just cook - expertly guiding the Joint Adventure along the Jersey shoreline -

Kate can do more than just cook – here she’s expertly guiding the Joint Adventure along the Jersey shoreline –

The Verrazano Bridge emerged from the fog as we approached the mouth of the Hudson River.

The Verrazano Bridge emerged from the fog as we approached the mouth of the Hudson River.

The Manhattan skyline emerges from the fog as we proceed up the Hudson River

The Manhattan skyline emerges from the fog as we proceed up the Hudson River

Passing The Lady as we head up the Hudson River

Passing the Lady as we head up the Hudson River

The marinas on the New York side of the river have no protection from wakes from the constant ferry traffic that plies New York Harbor, so we stayed on the Jersey side at Liberty Landing Marina, which has direct ferry service every 30 minutes to New York – just a 10 minute ride. We needed to move along to get home, so we were only able to spend one day in the Big Apple. We therefore decided to go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the site of the World Trade Center (now the Freedom Tower). The Memorial consists of two deep holes in the ground lined with black marble that trace the foundation walls of the two former towers. A continuous flow of water spills over the walls, where it collects and then cascades into a deeper hole in the middle, the bottom of which is not visible from the edge of the Memorial. The name of each person who perished is engraved in the marble along the perimeter of each tower. It is a very powerful memorial. The Museum, entirely underground, is expansive – it includes film clips from 9/11, personal accounts from survivors and first responders, recordings and accounts from officials trying to understand what was happening and how to respond to it, remnants of the towers, and much more than I could describe in a meaningful way in this forum. It is worth spending half a day to remember and assess the significance of what happened there.

Here are a few images:

The new Freedom Tower dominates the NY skyline

The new Freedom Tower dominates the NY skyline

The Freedom Tower -

The Freedom Tower –

 A small portion of the 9/11 Memorial. The white structure in the background is a sculpture still under construction, being built from remnants of the old World Trade Center towers.

A small portion of the 9/11 Memorial. The white structure in the background is a sculpture still under construction, being built from remnants of the old World Trade Center towers.

Returning to the Joint Adventure on the ferry, with the Manhattan skyline and the Freedom Tower in the background. From left to right:  Jim K, Kate, Hank, and Tom.

Returning to the Joint Adventure on the ferry, with the Manhattan skyline and the Freedom Tower in the background. From left to right: Jim K, Kate, Hank, and Tom.

On Sunday, we waited until 9:30 to cast off the lines so we would transit the East River and aptly-named Hell’s Gate at slack tide.  The passage is notorious due to its ferocious tidal current, standing waves, and rapids, particularly when winds oppose the tidal currents. The passage can be treacherous in today’s world, but in earlier days the danger of the strong currents was exacerbated by numerous obstructions. In 1850’s, the Army Corp of Engineers began to clear some of the obstructions, a process that would go on for 70 years. In 1876, the Army Corp used 50,000 pounds of explosives to blast dangerous rocks. However, that effort was dwarfed 12 years later when the Corp set off 300,000 pounds of explosives – the blast was felt as far away as Princeton, NJ, sent a geyser 25 stories into the air, and has been described as “the largest planned explosion before testing began for the atomic bomb.” Despite these efforts, by the late 19th century, literally hundreds of ships had sunk attempting to transit Hell’s Gate.

However, none of those bad things happened to us.  Winds were fairly calm, and we had an uneventful passage. Here are a few pictures from our run around the Battery and into Long Island Sound:

While running down the East River, we came upon this enormous fender that some large yacht had apparently not secured properly, so we circled back and scooped it up for use on the Joint Adventure, I wish I had had it over the past year!

While running down the East River, we came upon this enormous fender that some large yacht had apparently not secured properly, so we circled back and scooped it up for use on the Joint Adventure. I wish I had had it over the past year!

The United Nations, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure on the East River

The United Nations, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure on the East River

OK, I know - not another bridge! But I couldn't resist, even though I included a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on our passage through New York a year ago. But such a bridgehistory!

OK, I know – not another bridge! But I couldn’t resist, even though I included a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on our passage through New York a year ago. But such a bridge, and such a history!

I recounted this story in the blog a year ago when we passed through New York, but I just have to summarize it here. The Brooklyn Bridge was designed by a pioneer in the art of suspension bridges by the name of John Roebling, one of the few engineers in the world who had successfully designed cable suspension bridges. This one was far longer than any he had ever attempted. However, while conducting a survey for the bridge, Roebling’s foot was crushed between a ferry and a piling while he was conducting a survey for the bridge. His toes were amputated, but he died of tetanus a couple of weeks later. With no one else to turn to, the Trustees reluctantly named Roebling’s 32 year old son, Washington Roebling, as Chief Engineer, since Washington had been working with his father on the design of the bridge. Construction of the foundation caissons for the two supporting piers began in 1869. Two giant wooden boxes, open at the bottom, were floated over the location of the two piers and sunk. Compressed air was pumped into the boxes to force the water out, and men were sent inside the boxes with picks and shovels to dig beneath the boxes. Excavated material as well as access by the workmen passed through air locks, similar to those used on a submarine. As the box sank further into the ground beneath the floor of the river, the pressure of the compressed air had to continually increase to keep out the increasing pressure of the water. Soon workmen started to suffer from a mysterious disease that confounded medical experts at the time. We now know that they were suffering from the bends, as they emerged from the chamber filled with compressed air without any decompression. As a result, in January of 1870, shortly after taking over as Chief Engineer and after construction on the bridge had just begun, Washington Roebling suffered a paralyzing case of the bends. From that point on, he was unable to visit the construction site and supervised the entire construction from his apartment with a view of the site. His wife, Emily Roebling, became his eyes and ears and his conduit of communication for the next 11 years of construction, transmitting information back and forth from the site to Washington. In the process, she studied higher mathematics, the calculations of catenary curves, material science, and the intricacies of cable construction. Many historians have concluded that she became the de facto engineer for the bridge, making many key design decisions on her own. The entire story is described in an outstanding book which reads like a novel entitled The Great Bridge by David McCullough – a truly remarkable story which I highly recommend!

Please note that, when transiting the East River from NY Harbor to Long Island, one passes under about a dozen remarkable, iconic bridges. Using all my willpower, I have restrained myself from posting any more of these beautiful structures.

The East River led us into Long Island Sound, with our destination being Norwalk, Connecticut.  Norwalk is an upscale city with manageable train access to New York, and has a multitude of restaurants, pubs, and shops in magnificent old, historic buildings.  Here is an image from the main street:

A sample of the beautiful, historic buildings that now house upscale restaurants, shops, and pubs along an active Main Street

A sample of the beautiful, historic buildings that now house upscale restaurants, shops, and pubs along an active main street

Our main focus for stopping in Norwalk was to rendezvous with our good friends Tom and Tim from the vessel IF. You may remember them as the grandfather/grandson team doing the Great Loop together, whom we first met in Trenton, Ontario last June ( a year ago!).  We have hop-scotched with them throughout the trip, meeting up along the way for some wonderful outings, including a visit to our favorite anchorage, known as “The Pool”, in the North Channel of Lake Huron. Our most recent encounters were in Boca Grande, Florida, where Tim served us an incredible home-cooked meal aboard IF, and a visit to Fort Myers, Florida, where Tim & I went out together and checked out a few clubs.  We’ve stayed in touch since then, following each others’ trip, and finally were able to link up again in Norwalk. Tom, his lovely bride Alice, and Tim are currently in Mamaroneck, NY visiting family, so they were kind enough to drive to Norwalk to meet us for a wonderful dinner together. Here are a few pictures:

Evidence that the best part of an epic trip like this is the people you meet - from left to right:  Tom McNichol, Tim, Tom, Alice, and Hank

Evidence that the best part of an epic trip like this is the people you meet – from left to right: Tom McNichol, Tim, Tom, Alice, and Hank

Dinner in Norwalk with such good friends - left to right: Tom, Jim K, Hank, Alice, Tim, Tom McNichol

Dinner in Norwalk with such good friends – left to right: Tom, Jim K, Hank, Alice, Tim, Tom McNichol

We planned to leave early the next morning before the winds increased, but an engine alarm sounded when we started the port (left) engine. It took until early afternoon to determine that it was caused by a faulty connection in the alarm rather than a problem with the engine. We cast off about 2:00 PM, but by then the wind had increased to 20 knots – after a couple of miles in the open water, we decided to turn back and try again Wednesday morning. We cast off in calm seas early in the morning and ran 98 miles to Watch Hill, Rhode Island when the wind had again kicked up and the fog rolled in, which convinced us to stop. Watch Hill is an affluent beach town which came to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as an exclusive summer resort characterized by enormous Victorian homes built by wealthy families. According to an article in the New York Times from that time period, it is a community “with a strong sense of privacy and discreetly used wealth” as opposed to “the overpowering castles of the very rich” in Newport, RI.  Taylor Swift recently purchased a large Victorian mansion from this era, and has made Watch Hill her home.

The Hurricane of 1938 devastated Watch Hill – on Fort Road, which ran along a sand spit in Watch Hill,  39 homes completely disappeared within hours. Today the sand spit is a vacant beach.  Here are some images from Watch Hill:

The beach at Watch Hill.  Noice the flag in the background - the wind was whipping when we entered the harbor and continued unabated through the afternoon. The sand spit where 39 houses disappeared in the Hurricane of 1938 starts in the background

The beach at Watch Hill. Noice the flag in the background – the wind was whipping when we entered the harbor and the fog forced us to navigate the winding, narrow channel using our radar. The wind continued unabated through the afternoon. The sand spit where 39 houses disappeared in the Hurricane of 1938 starts in the background

Shops along the waterfront in Watch Hill

Shops along the waterfront in Watch Hill

The Ocean House in Watch Hill is an enormous historic building and is the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Rhode Island.

The Ocean House in Watch Hill is an enormous historic building and is the only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel in Rhode Island.

The front of the Ocean House

The front of the Ocean House

First opened in 1883, the Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest operating suspended-horse carousel in the United States, and is o the National Historic Landmark

First opened in 1883, the Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest operating suspended-horse carousel in the United States, and is on the National Historic Landmark

The old stone building housing the historic carousel on the Watch Hill waterfront

The old stone building housing the historic carousel on the Watch Hill waterfront

This is Taylor Swift's home overlooking the ocean near the waterfront in Watch Hill

This is Taylor Swift’s home overlooking the ocean near the waterfront in Watch Hill

We again planned a long day, steaming 90 miles across the open waters of Block Island Sound and Rhode Island Sound, then through the Cape Cod Canal. This time the weather cooperated, however, with sunny skies and lighter winds than we’ve had in several weeks. We’re currently docked in Sandwich, Ma. at the eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal, which was our first stop 13 1/2 months ago. Hard to believe we’re nearly back at the beginning, near the end of the voyage.

Early readers of the blog may recall this picture from the first blog post from Sandwich last May – the caption is self-explanatory:

A testament to Yankee ingenuity - how to fix the ice machine when it won't drain properly

A testament to Yankee ingenuity – how to fix the ice machine when it won’t drain properly

Here is the same machine now:

You'll be happy to know that, 13 1/2 months later, they have apparently fixed the drain problem on the ice machine...

You’ll be happy to know that, 13 1/2 months later, they have apparently fixed the drain problem on the ice machine…

One more blog post to go, upon completion of the Great Loop Adventure….

 

 

 

 

 

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AN ABRUPT CHANGE OF PLANS

Post # 55:  AN ABRUPT CHANGE OF PLANS;  Day 394;  May 30, 2015.  On board:  Tom McNichol; Hank (my Dad); Jim K.

Life and boating are full of surprises – this time it was a life surprise. Unfortunately, my wife Trish slipped getting into the shower at home in Boston and tore her hamstring from the bone, requiring a significant surgery. Therefore, we docked the boat in Manasquan, New Jersey, rented a car, and drove home so I would be there for the surgery and the beginning of her recovery. The surgery was performed yesterday (Friday), and was successful. Her full recovery will take quite some time – crutches for 6 weeks, no driving for 3 months. I plan to stay home until she is past the initial stages of recovery and arrangements are in place for assistance for her at home, then drive back to Manasquan to bring the Joint Adventure the rest of the way to Boston at a faster pace than originally planned – I expect that will take a week or so, which would get me back to Boston mid-June, which is consistent with our original schedule.  Life is full of surprises!

Back to the trip – as we prepared to leave Cape May and head up the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway last Sunday, we asked everyone we could find in Cape May about the condition of the New Jersey ICW.  We called and asked Sea Tow.  We called and asked BoatUS.  We talked to the dockmaster and several local boaters. Everyone said the same thing:  It is in terrible shape – it has not been maintained;  there are shoals;  there are unmarked shallow spots;  there are long, narrow channels that are difficult to see and easy to wander off into shallow water;  there is still unmarked debris in the channel from Hurricane Sandy.  Bottom line:  their recommendations were unanimous: do not use the New Jersey ICW, especially between Cape May and Atlantic City.  Instead, they recommended going outside the Cape May Inlet and running along the coast, then going back inside the nearest inlet for our overnight destinations.  So we went in the ICW anyway.  We knew the ICW would be a really scenic run if we could minimize our risk of running aground, and we have the advantage of a boat with a relatively shallow draft (about three feet). So we marked on the chart every critical area that people could identify for us, then timed our departure to get to the shallowest spots on the upper half of the tide cycle, when the tide was rising (with a rising tide, if we did go aground, we could wait an hour or so for the tide to lift us so we could back off. With a falling tide, the wait could be 10 hours or longer with the risk of damage much higher as the water ran out from beneath the boat as the tide receded).

Our preparation and our gamble paid off. We crawled through the low spots on the upper half of the tide cycle and enjoyed some wonderful scenes, matching some of the best we’ve seen on the trip. We encountered just one other cruiser the whole way, and he was carefully picking his way through as well. However, it was Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and it seems that every recreational boater with a small run-about in the entire state was in this section of the ICW – there were boats flying by us in every direction, some passing at full speed within 5 feet of our Hull.  After all, we were in New Jersey….

Here are some pictures from the NJ ICW:

Some wonderful waterfront homes and cottages along the New Jersey ICW, which runs behind the barrier islands that make up the Jersey Shore.

Some wonderful waterfront homes and cottages along the New Jersey ICW, which runs behind the barrier islands that make up the Jersey Shore. In addition to being shallow, the waterway brought us through some narrow channels, so were quite close to many classic northeast cottages built on stilts often right up to and over the water’s edge.

More waterfront homes or cottages

The tidal range is up to about 5 feet, so the homes and cottages are on stilts with floating docks accessed off the porch.

The NJ ICW passes through a surprising amount of marshland, which at times was reminiscent of the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina, except that upland areas adjacent to the marshes is much more developed in New Jersey.

The NJ ICW passes through a surprising amount of marshland, which at times was reminiscent of the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina, except that upland areas adjacent to the marshes is much more developed in New Jersey than down south.

The cottages and homes exhibited a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles.

The cottages and homes exhibited a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles.

The New Jersey ICW has more bridges than we've seen in quite some time. We got stranded for nearly an hour waiting for an opening at a bridge which the fire department had stopped all openings while they dealt with an emergency and wanted to make sure the bridge was closed in case they needed it.

The New Jersey ICW has more bridges than we’ve seen in quite some time. We got stranded for nearly an hour waiting for an opening at a bridge at which the fire department had stopped all openings while they dealt with an emergency and wanted to make sure the bridge was available for them to cross in case they needed it.

Motoring through a populated portion of the NJ ICW

Motoring through a populated portion of the NJ ICW

Most of the visual damage from Hurricane Sandy 2 1/2 years ago has been demolished or removed but this sunken boat and damaged dock was a reminder of the massive destruction that New Jersey and New York City endured.

Most of the visual damage from Hurricane Sandy 2 1/2 years ago has been demolished or removed, but this sunken boat and damaged dock was a reminder of the massive destruction that New Jersey and New York City endured.

Our first stop on the NJ ICW was a large marina with an on-site restaurant just outside of Ocean City, NJ. Other than the marina, there wasn’t much there without taking a cab, so we decided to cook dinner on board and watch one of the multitude of movies with which my Dad had stocked the boat. The next morning we ran just 15 miles to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City is a very interesting place with a fascinating history. The first hotel was built in 1853, and a year later railroad service began from Philadelphia.  By 1874, nearly half a million visitors a year were flocking to the newly-formed beach resort community, often credited as the first such resort in the country. The famous boardwalk was first built in 1870, and at one time extended more than 7 miles before some parts were damaged by a hurricane in 1944. During the first two decades of the 20th century, Atlantic City underwent a huge building boom in which dozens of enormous resort hotels were built. Prohibition became the law of the land in 1919, but was largely unenforced in Atlantic City – alcohol was smuggled in with the acquiescence of local officials and was easily available in the restaurants and other establishments. The availability of liquor combined with prevalent backroom gambling caused the resort’s popularity to soar even further. In 1923, the City approved construction of a Convention Center (now named Boardwalk Hall), which is discussed in more detail below. Big name entertainers flocked to the City, offering extravagant shows. The Miss America Pageant was born in Atlantic City in 1921, and was held there every year until moving briefly to Las Vegas before returning in 2013. The game Monopoly exploded in popularity after the original board was redesigned to name the properties after locations in or near Atlantic City. And salt water taffy was invented and popularized in Atlantic City.

After World War II, however, the City entered a period of serious decline. With the increased use of automobiles, jet travel, and home swimming pools, people increasingly went to more exotic places to vacation or vacationed in suburbia around their pools. Like many northeastern cities, Atlantic City became plagued with poverty, crime, corruption, and a loss of jobs. Many of the once-magnificent hotels fell into disrepair and were demolished. In an effort to rejuvenate the city, New Jersey voters in 1976 passed a referendum legalizing gambling in Atlantic City. A building boom returned, as a dozen casino resorts were built. The city again boomed, and by the end of the 1980’s, Atlantic City was again one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. However, most people agree that the boom bypassed the impoverished neighborhoods surrounding the tourist area where rejuvenation was needed most.

Today, the fortunes of the city have changed yet again. As many other states have legalized gambling causing the spread of casinos throughout the country, Atlantic City no longer had a monopoly on gambling in the East and people increasingly visited casinos close to home rather than traveling to Atlantic City. Four of Atlantic City’s twelve casinos have closed just within the last two years, with a loss of 8,000 jobs.  Others are struggling with rampant rumors of more closings to come. While talking with a jitney driver, he described the boom years of the 80’s and 90’s saying “every day was New Years Eve”. He’s very concerned about the future.

We spent two days in Atlantic City, exploring the boardwalk and seeing the sights. Not being a big gambler, I decided to limit my losses to $5, which took about 90 seconds at a slot machine (I needed to ask the woman next to me how it worked…).  Here are some images from our visit:

The Atlantic City skyline as seen from the New Jersey ICW.

The Atlantic City skyline as seen approaching from the New Jersey ICW.

The famous Atlantic City boardwalk - some sections are dominated by highrise hotel/casinos, other sections have older, two and three story shops along its edge. The beach runs along the boardwalk the entire way.

The famous Atlantic City boardwalk – some sections are dominated by highrise hotel/casinos, other sections have older, two and three story shops along its edge. The beach runs along the boardwalk the entire way.

Extravagance along the Atlantic City boardwalk

Extravagance along the Atlantic City boardwalk

The Taj Mahal in Atlantic City -

The Taj Mahal in Atlantic City –

The gambling floors are enormous and seem to go on forever. Watching some of the games can be quite entertaining...

The gambling floors are enormous and seem to go on forever. Watching some of the games can be quite entertaining…

Jitney's provide transportation 24/7 throughout the city, and run every 5 to 10 minutes. There are 190 jitneys, and each is privately owned. The owners have an association, and govern themselves.

Jitney’s provide transportation 24/7 throughout the city, and run every 5 to 10 minutes. There are 190 jitneys, and each is privately owned. The owners have an association, and govern themselves.

This boat came into Atlantic City while we were there and docked across from us. It was built in 1926, and is the nearly-identical sister ship to the Sequoia. The Sequoia was the presidential yacht from 1931 to 1977, used by virtually every president from Herbert Hoover t Jimmy Carter, who had it sold. Roosevelt had an elevator installed, which Lyndon Johnson had removed and replaced with a bar.

This boat came into Atlantic City while we were there and docked across from us. It was built in 1926, and is the nearly-identical sister ship to the Sequoia. The Sequoia was the presidential yacht from 1931 to 1977, used by virtually every president from Herbert Hoover to Jimmy Carter, who ordered it sold. Roosevelt had an elevator installed, which Lyndon Johnson had removed and replaced with a bar.

This is the former revel Casino. It was built at a cost of $2.4 billion and, incredibly, it was closed within the past 9 months after operating for less than two years. It was just bought for $82 million, about 3% of its cost to construct...

This is the former Revel Casino. It was built at a cost of $2.4 billion and, incredibly, it was closed within the past 9 months after operating for less than two years. It was just bought for $82 million, about 3% of its cost to construct…

One of the fascinating sights in Atlantic City is Boardwalk Hall, built in 1926. At the time, it contained the longest free-standing arch in the world, and was the largest enclosed open space in the world. The Miss America Pagent, concerts, shows, ice hockey games, boxing matches, and arena football are all held in the cavernous building. Concerts held in the Hall include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga. The Who performed there last month. During World War II, the hall was used for military training, and the Democratic National Convention was held there in 1964, nominating Lyndon Johnson. Even more amazing is the pipe organ which was built between 1929 and 1932 at a cost of $500,000, weighing more than 150 tons and requiring more than 80 technicians to install it. The replacement cost today is estimated to be three quarters of a billion dollars. We took a tour of the building and learned that the organ is being restored, a process that will take about 12 years. The organ consists of 33,000 pipes, ranging in size from 64 feet to a third of an inch in height (yes – a third of an inch!). The immensity of the organ was required to fill the cavernous hall with music. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the organ produces  “…a pure trumpet sound of earsplitting volume…six times louder than the loudest train whistle.” The air to play the organ is generated by blowers which are powered by 600 HP motors.

Here are some pictures from our tour:

The original Convention Center, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The original Boardwalk Hall as seen from the beach, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The cavernous inside of the building

The cavernous inside of the building

This is the "controls" where the organ player sits to play the organ

This is the “controls” where the organ player sits to play the organ. It contains over 1,000 keys!

While in Atlantic City, we learned that Trish’s surgery had been scheduled three days later, so we decided to try to get to Manasquan to leave the boat while we came home. Conditions were marginal, requiring us to run nearly 70 miles in the ICW through a low tide cycle with 20 knot winds gusting to 25. Despite the marginal conditions, we decided to go in order to get the boat closer to Boston. Although we lost the channel a couple of times where it was poorly marked, we arrived in Manasquan late in the afternoon without major incident.

We expect to return to the Joint Adventure later this week for the final leg of our journey, which will take us back through New York City, Long Island Sound, the Cape Cod Canal, and up the coast to Boston. More to come!

 

 

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OYSTER WARS

Post #54:  OYSTER WARS;  Day 387;  May 23, 2015.  On board:  Tom McNichol;  Hank (my Dad);  Jim K

Chesapeake Bay is an enormous body of water, stretching 200 miles north from its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean to the Susquehanna River and measuring 30 miles at its widest point. One hundred fifty major rivers and streams empty into the Bay, and its shoreline is nearly 12.000 miles long. It is relatively shallow, however, with an average depth of just 21 feet. It was first explored in detail in 1607 and again in 1609 by Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame.

Two critical battles occurred on the Chesapeake. The “Battle of the Capes”, described in a previous blog update, occurred in 1781 and resulted in America’s French allies controlling the mouth of the Chesapeake, setting the stage for General Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown, effectively ending the American Revolution. The second was the failed bombardment by the British fleet of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner.

Less well known are the “Oyster Wars” that continued on the Chesapeake for nearly 100 years. The Oyster Wars started in 1865 when Maryland passed a law requiring annual permits for oyster harvesting within its territorial waters. Permits were restricted to only Maryland residents. By the 1880’s, the Chesapeake supplied almost half the world’s supply of oysters. Ignoring the permit requirements, New England fishermen started harvesting oysters in the Bay when their local oyster beds became depleted. In response, Maryland formed the Maryland Oyster Navy, the predecessor to today’s Maryland Natural Resources Police. However, it was inadequate to compete with the more heavily armed watermen. Virginia made its own attempts to control oyster harvesting, including license fees, seasonal limits, and a ban on dredging, Its enforcement efforts were also inadequate, and illegal harvesting continued. However, the Governor of Virginia, William Cameron, needed publicity to boost his popularity, so he left his office in the state house to personally lead an expedition against illegal dredgers. In February of 1882, his fleet of two boats, a freighter and a tugboat, engaged the illegal dredgers at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, resulting in the successful conviction of 41 dredgers and the seizure of 7 boats. The Governor’s popularity soared. However, a year later his popularity diminished, so he decided to undertake a second expedition. This one failed, as captured dredgers were acquitted in court and the Governor was blamed. Further, the opposition press mocked him for failing to capture the “Dancing Molly”, a sloop run by three women who managed to outrun the Governor’s fleet (I’m not making this up). The embarrassment increased when the Norfolk Academy of Music lampooned the Governor in a comic opera entitled “Driven From the Seas;  or The Pirate Dredger’s Doom”. The Governor’s popularity never recovered.  The Oyster Wars continued until, in 1959, an officer of the Potomac Rivers Fishery Commission killed a Virginia waterman who was illegally dredging. The Commissioner ordered that the fisheries police be disarmed, and the violence finally ended.

Our next stop on the Chesapeake was Annapolis, Maryland. Founded in 1649, Annapolis grew rapidly in the 18th century as a port of entry and a major center for the Atlantic slave trade. However, it declined rapidly when Baltimore, with its deeper harbor, became a port of entry in 1780. Annapolis became the temporary capital of the United States in 1783 for about a year upon the signing of the Treaty of Paris granting independence from Britain. In 1845, the United States Naval Academy was established in Annapolis. The entire campus is now a National Historic Landmark, and its presence is omnipresent in the city.

Today, Annapolis is a thriving tourist and college town. There are over 100 restaurants in the city, and Main Street is a collage of boutiques, pubs, and specialty shops. There is a very active night life, fueled in part by the Academy.

We docked at the Annapolis City Docks, located in the heart of downtown Annapolis. Here are some images from our two-day visit:

The United States Naval Academy, as seen from the harbor on the way in.

The United States Naval Academy, as seen from the harbor on the way in.

The chapel at the Naval Academy

The chapel at the Naval Academy

The presence of the Naval Academy pervades Annapolis.  Cadets in the first two years are required to wear their dress uniform whenever they are out and about.

The presence of the Naval Academy pervades Annapolis. Cadets in the first two years are required to wear their dress uniform whenever they are out and about.

Main Street in Annapolis as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure docked in the Inner Harbor

Main Street in Annapolis as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure docked in the Inner Harbor

Strolling Main Street in the evening

Strolling Main Street in the evening

This statue is located at the waterfront of Annapolis Harbor - the plaque reads: "To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in ROOTS and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States."

This statue is located at the waterfront of Annapolis Harbor – the plaque reads: “To commemorate the arrival in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in ROOTS and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character, and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States.”

 

On Sunday night, we had the pleasure of entertaining Tom's nephew Brian, his wife Anna and extended  family members, along with my college roommate Jerry Solomon and his wife Sheila. We posed for a "groupie" before we had dinner at a the Federal House on Main Street. Unfortunately, Jerry & Sheila were stuck in traffic and aren't in the picture.

On Sunday night, we had the pleasure of entertaining Tom’s nephew Brian, his wife Anna and extended family members, along with my college roommate Jerry Solomon and his wife Sheila. We posed for a “groupie” before we had dinner at a the Federal House on Main Street. Unfortunately, Jerry & Sheila were stuck in traffic and aren’t in the picture.

From Annapolis we ran 40 miles up the Patapsco River to Baltimore, about 10 miles each way off our route. We docked in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, located in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The waterfront/Inner Harbor has been transformed in recent decades, and is home to many shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the Aquarium and the Science Museum. We planned to stay for two days in Baltimore, but stayed an extra day due to high winds. Here are some pictures from our stay:

The Baltimore skyline as seen from the water, entering Baltimore Inner Harbor

The Baltimore skyline as seen from the water, entering Baltimore Inner Harbor

We docked at the City Docks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore , in the heart of downtown. This is a view from the bridge of the Joint Adventure, looking across the Inner Harbor at the Aquarium and other harborfront buildings containing restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.

We docked at the City Docks in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore , in the heart of downtown. This is a view from the bridge of the Joint Adventure, looking across the Inner Harbor at the Aquarium and other harborfront buildings containing restaurants, pubs, shops, etc.

I boat name I hadn't seen before - it expresses the sentiments of many....

A boat name I hadn’t seen before – it expresses the sentiments of many….

One of the classic ballparks is Camden Yards in Baltimore, home to the Orioles. This iconic part of the park dates from the 1700's, but the stadium itself was built in the 1980's. However, it was designed in the style of the original ballparks like Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, and therefore has real character.

One of the classic ballparks is Camden Yards in Baltimore, home to the Orioles. This iconic part of the park dates from the 1700’s, but the stadium itself was built in the 1980’s. However, it was designed in the style of the original ballparks like Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, and is recognized as one of the great parks to watch a ballgame.

We took a tour of Camden Yards - this is a view from the third base line looking across the field with the warehouse in the background.

We took a tour of Camden Yards during the day – this is a view from the third base line looking across the field with the warehouse in the background.

Hank in the dugout, waiting for his turn at bet....

Hank and Tom in the dugout, waiting for their turn at bat….

Taking in an evening Orioles game at Camden Yards - the O's beat the Mariners 9-4.

Taking in an evening Orioles game at Camden Yards – the O’s beat the Mariners 9-4.

The Baltimore Arts Tower - otherwise known as the "Bromo Tower" - It was built in 1911 by Captain Issac Emerson, the chemist who developed the headache remedy Bromo Seltzer. The tower was part of an 8 story factory where he manufactured huge quantities of the remedy. At the time it was the tallest building in Baltimore and housed the world's largest four-dial gravity clock with faces 24 feet in diameter. An unabashed promoter, Emerson crowned the tower with a 51 foot revolving replica of a Bromo Seltzer bottle - illuminared with nearly 600 lights, it could be seen by seamen 20 miles out to sea. In 1986, the bottle was removed due to structural deterioration.

The Baltimore Arts Tower – otherwise known as the “Bromo Tower” – It was built in 1911 by Captain Issac Emerson, the chemist who developed the headache remedy Bromo Seltzer. The tower was part of an 8 story factory where he manufactured huge quantities of the remedy. At the time it was the tallest building in Baltimore and housed the world’s largest four-dial gravity clock with faces 24 feet in diameter. An unabashed promoter, Emerson crowned the tower with a 51 foot revolving replica of a Bromo Seltzer bottle – illuminared with nearly 600 lights, it could be seen by seamen 20 miles out to sea. In 1986, the bottle was removed and demolished due to structural deterioration.

Fort McHenry, as seen from the water while entering Baltimore Harbor. In the War of 1812, the British intended to burn Baltimore as their next target after having just burned Washington DC. However, they first had to capture Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbor. After 25 hours of bombardment from a fleet of battleships in the harbor, the fort held and the British withdrew. Francis Scott Key, having been captured earlier and imprisoned on a barge anchored in the harbor, awoke in "dawn's early ligh" and saw the American flag still flying over the fort - inspired, he sat down and wrote "The Star Spangled Banner".

Fort McHenry, as seen from the water while entering Baltimore Harbor. In the War of 1812, the British intended to burn Baltimore as their next target after having just burned Washington DC. However, they first had to capture Fort McHenry, which guarded the harbor. After 25 hours of bombardment from a fleet of battleships in the harbor, the fort held and the British withdrew. Francis Scott Key, having been captured earlier and imprisoned on a barge anchored in the harbor, awoke in “dawn’s early light” and saw the American flag still flying over the fort – inspired, he sat down and wrote “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Images from Fort McHenry -

Images from Fort McHenry –

Looking downriver from the Fort towards where the British warships and Francis Scott Key were located and

Looking downriver from the Fort towards where the British warships and Francis Scott Key were located during the bombardment.

Hank explaining to the Colonel how he should be defending the fort -

Hank explaining to the Colonel how he should be defending the fort –

There is a really cool modern sculpture/art museum near the Baltimore harborfront called the American Visionary Museum. They display art that is unusual and unexpected. This is the outside of one of the three buildings.

There is a really cool modern sculpture/art museum near the Baltimore harborfront called the American Visionary Museum. They display art that is unusual and unexpected. This is the outside of one of the three buildings.

A cool statue in the museum -

A cool statue in the museum –

A man on a treadmill, built from old coffee cans -

A man on a treadmill, built from old coffee cans –

A man at his desk -

A man at his desk –

My nephew Jimmy Southerton, his lovely bride Heather, and their two beautiful children - Jameson and Nora - drove from their home in southern Pennsylvania to visit us on the Joint Adventure in Baltimore - a wonderful visit!

My nephew Jimmy Southerton, his lovely bride Heather, and their two beautiful children – Jameson and Nora – drove from their home in southern Pennsylvania to visit us on the Joint Adventure in Baltimore – a wonderful visit!

Jimmy and Jameson in the Science Museum -

Jameson in awe at the Science Museum –

My new nice, Nora - what a beauty!

My new nice, Nora – what a beauty!

The following day, the wind in Baltimore had finally diminished, but it was cold and rainy. However, we wanted to move on, so we ran 50 miles in steady rain to Chesapeake City. The bridge on the Joint Adventure has a bimini top and clear plastic windows that can be zipped into place, so we dressed warm and stayed dry during the run. Chesapeake City is located on the C&D Canal, which connects Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay. The map below is the best way to describe the geography:

The bay on the left with a line showing a route is Chesapeake Bay. The bay on the right is Delaware Bay. The C&D Canal , 14 miles long, connects the two bays at their northern end. The map also shows the route we took - instead of running along the Atlantic coast, which would have been shorte, we went north into Chesapeake Bay, then through the C&D Canal, then south through Delaware Bay to Cape May, which is on the tip of the peninsula at the southeast end of Delaware Bay with the Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

The bay on the left with a line showing a route is Chesapeake Bay. The bay on the right is Delaware Bay. The C&D Canal, 14 miles long, connects the two bays at their northern end. The map also shows the route we took – instead of running along the Atlantic coast, which would have been shorter, we went north into Chesapeake Bay, then through the C&D Canal, then south through Delaware Bay to Cape May, which is on the tip of the peninsula at the southeast end of Delaware Bay, with the Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

Chesapeake City is a hidden gem – a small, historic town with buildings dating in the early 1800’s with some surprisingly good restaurants and a vibrant marina with a large restaurant/lounge that has live music 5 days a week. Here are some pictures:

Originally a bank constructed in the early 1800's, this building has been fully restored and now houses a stained glass window shop with a huge stained glass window displayed inside.

Originally a bank constructed in the early 1800’s, this building has been fully restored and now houses a stained glass window shop with a huge stained glass window displayed inside.

The General Store in Chesapeake City, established in 1861

The General Store in Chesapeake City, established in 1861

No trip to the Chesapeake would be complete without a meal of hard-shell crabs - all you can eat for $29, but you'd better have time and patience, as each crab doesn't yield a great deal of meat. Oh, but so good!

No trip to the Chesapeake would be complete without a meal of hard-shell crabs – all you can eat for $29, but you’d better have time and patience, as each crab doesn’t yield a great deal of meat. Oh, but so good!

The rain cleared but the forecast called for winds increasing to 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots and small craft warnings, so we left at dawn the next day to run 70 miles down Delaware Bay to Cape May, New Jersey. The wind and waves kicked up, but the waves were on our stern so the passage was a bit rough but doable. On the way, we passed the nuclear power plant that my nephew Jimmy Southerton operates:

Jimmy's nuclear power plant has three reactors, but only one utilizes a cooling tower. The other two, of earlier vintage, use water directly from the river for cooling.

Jimmy’s nuclear power plant has three reactors, but only one utilizes a cooling tower. The other two, of earlier vintage, uses water directly from the river for cooling. I texted Jimmy to look out the window and wave, but he threatened to call security if we got too close (just kidding…).

Cape May, New Jersey is unique. Located on a peninsula which separates Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, it was the country’s first seaside resort. Several large hotels were constructed, and it became the summer playground of socialites in the 18th century. In 1878, a five day long fire destroyed several city blocks, including several of the hotels. Nearly all of the homes that were built during the reconstruction were Victorian style, and today Cape May boasts the second largest collection of Victorian homes in the nation, after San Francisco. In 1976, the entire town was designated a National Historic Landmark, the only city in the nation so designated. Today, the city is a thriving tourist town with tours of the historic homes, great restaurants, and a fantastic beach. Here are some images:

An image from Cape May Harbor, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure

An image from Cape May Harbor, as seen from the bridge of the Joint Adventure

We went for a trolley tour and a horse and buggy tour to see the incredible homes in Cape May

We went for a trolley tour and a horse and buggy tour to see the incredible homes in Cape May

A sign at the horse/carriage tours -

A sign at the horse/carriage tours –

My Dad at the helm of the dinghy as we toured Cape May harbor

My Dad at the helm of the dinghy as we toured Cape May harbor

The next series of pictures are of some of the incredible 19th century homes of Cape May - no further commentary needed

The next series of pictures are of some of the incredible 19th century homes of Cape May – no further commentary needed

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From Cape May, we work our way north on the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway towards New York. We’re told that the channel is often narrow and shallow, extensive shoaling exists, and some debris from Hurricane Sandy still remains submerged and unmarked. If it gets too precarious, we’ll head into the open water and run outside the shoreline, but we prefer the interesting channels of the ICW if it is safe enough. More to come!

 

 

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SKIING AT THE TIKI BAR

Post #53 – SKIING AT THE TIKI BAR  – Day 380, May 16, 2015;   On board:  Hank Koningisor (my Dad);  Tom McNichol;  Jim K

Before we left Norfolk, a “caravan” of PDQ’s docked at the South Harbor in Portsmouth (just across the river from Norfolk). PDQ is the manufacturer of the Joint Adventure – they built 114 of them from 2001 to 2007, when the company succumbed to economic pressures as the economy began to collapse.  Therefore, only 114 exist – six of them came into the harbor:

A PDQ invasion!

A PDQ invasion!

Unfortunately, Jack Kelly left the Joint Adventure on Saturday to re-enter real life. Fortunately, Hank (my Dad, who is now in his 91st year) and Tom McNichol flew to Norfolk to join me.  On Sunday, we ran 40 miles to Yorktown, about 15 miles off-route, up the York River. Norfolk Harbor empties into Chesapeake Bay at its mouth, so we encountered several large ships entering and leaving Norfolk:

We had to move to the side of the channel as these tugs maneuvered this massive freighter towards the harbor

We had to move to the side of the channel as these tugs maneuvered this massive freighter towards the harbor

In August of 1781, British General Clinton (no relation to Hillary….) became convinced that General Washington was going to attack Clinton’s position in New York rather than pursue General Cornwallis in Virginia. As a result, Clinton sent word to Cornwallis to adopt a defensive position and be ready to send reinforcements to New York if needed. Cornwallis chose Yorktown to build fortifications and dig in. In fact, Washington’s plan had been to attack New York until he got word that a fleet of allied French battleships were on route to the Chesapeake. Implementing an elaborate decoy which included an encampment of empty tents to fool Clinton, Washington departed under the cover of darkness with his troops on a forced march to Yorktown. Before he arrived, the French fleet engaged the British fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake in a sea battle that was essentially a draw. However, because of damage to his ships and not knowing that Washington was on his way to Yorktown, the British admiral withdrew his ships to New York for repairs.  This left the French fleet, allied with the Americans, in control of the mouth of the Chesapeake. Cornwallis’s escape route was effectively blocked. Upon his arrival, Washington joined with union forces already in Williamsburg – Washington now had Cornwallis significantly outnumbered. Although Cornwallis had more artillery pieces, Washington had much larger and more powerful cannons. In the siege that followed, Cornwallis quickly realized that his army of over 8,000 men had no chance and would be overrun. His last, desperate way out was to try to withdraw across the York River in a fleet of small boats that he had maintained at the ready for just such a purpose – he could then try to fight his way through a much smaller union army on the other side, hoping to be able to fight another day under more favorable circumstances. As he attempted to withdraw in darkness, however, a violent thunderstorm hit, destroying or severely damaging nearly all of the boats. Cornwallis knew it was over. The next morning, he surrendered his entire army, including all of the weapons and ammunition that had survived the siege. The Revolutionary War was effectively over – only minor skirmishes occurred thereafter until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783 granting independence to the American colonies.

Eighty percent of Yorktown was destroyed in the battle, including its port facilities, and the town never recovered its former prominence. In 1814, a fire destroyed the waterfront facilities that had been rebuilt, and the town became a small, sleepy farming village thereafter.

The Visitor Center/battlefield at Yorktown is a fascinating place to visit – there are far too many anecdotes and interesting stories for me to relate here.  The small village of Yorktown on a bluff above the river is also interesting, with many historic buildings dating to the early and mid 1800’s. Below the village, there is a tasteful waterfront along the York River which includes a beautiful beach, several restaurants, and many historic markers. Here are some pictures from our visit:

Yorktown Harbor on the York River as seen from a high level bridge adjacent to the harbor. The Joint Adventure is docked across from the small cruise ship that visited Yorktown for the day.

Yorktown Harbor on the York River as seen from a high level bridge adjacent to the harbor. The Joint Adventure is docked across from the small cruise ship that visited Yorktown for the day. Plenty of dock space the days we were there!

This is a statue of George Washington and his French counterpart at the Battle of Yorktown.  Tom is asking directions to the trolley stop....

This is a statue of George Washington and his French counterpart at the Battle of Yorktown. Tom is asking for directions to the trolley stop….they ignored him…

The Yorktown Victory Monument overlooking the battlefield at Yorktown. The monument was commissioned in October of 1781 just after the news of the surrender reached the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, however construction didn't bein for another 100 years (the wheels of government turn slowly...). It was completed in 1884.

The Yorktown Victory Monument overlooking the battlefield at Yorktown. The monument was commissioned in October of 1781 just after the news of the surrender reached the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, however construction didn’t begin for another 100 years (the wheels of government turn slowly…). It was completed in 1884.

This is the original Custom House in Yorktown Village, built in 1720.  Contrast this with the elaborate Custom Houses from some of the more prominent cities in past updates. Import and export fees due to Great Britain were collected here until the war broke out in 1776.

This is the original Custom House in Yorktown Village, built in 1720. Contrast this with the elaborate Custom Houses from some of the more prominent cities in past updates, such as Savannah or Charleston. Import and export fees levied by Great Britain were collected here until the war broke out in 1776.

This is the home of Thomas Nelson, located in Yorktown Village and built in 1730.  An activist who protested British taxes, Nelson led the Yorktown Tea Party, fashioned after the far more famous one in Boston. He was a member of the Continental Congress and was instrumental in getting Virginia to vote in favor of the Declaration of Independence, of which Nelson was one of 56 signatories.

This is the home of Thomas Nelson, located in Yorktown Village and built in 1730. An activist who protested British taxes, Nelson led the Yorktown Tea Party, fashioned after the far more famous one in Boston. He was a member of the Continental Congress and was instrumental in getting Virginia to vote in favor of the Declaration of Independence, of which Nelson was one of 56 signatories.

Due to high winds and some rain as Tropical Storm Ana passed over us, we were “weathered in” for another day in Yorktown, which fit our schedule as we had planned to stay for two days in Yorktown.  We rented a car and drove to Williamsburg and Jamestown, both within about 25 miles of Yorktown. Here are a few pictures:

My Dad at Williamsburg in his "raingear" - a plastic poncho that he has saved from our trip from Key West to the Dry Tortugas four months earlier -

My Dad at Williamsburg in his “raingear” – a plastic poncho that he had saved from our trip from Key West to the Dry Tortugas four months earlier –

Virginia was a key vote in the debate over independence, as several other southern states tended to follow Virginia's lead.  This is the Capitol Building in Williamsburg where the key vote was undertaken in 1776. An excellent movie in the Visitors Center dramatized both sides of the debate.

Virginia was a key vote in the debate over independence, as several other southern states tended to follow Virginia’s lead. This is the colonial Capitol Building in Williamsburg where the key vote was undertaken in 1776. An excellent movie in the Visitors Center dramatized both sides of the debate, the outcome of which was by no means certain. A fun musical  about the run-up and the vote for independence is “1776” – it can be rented on Netfix.

 

The Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, where Virginia leaders often met. Here in 1769, a group of burgesses adopted a proposal to boycott British goods. In 1774, they met again and issued a call for a Continental Congress.

The Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, where Virginia leaders often met. Here in 1769, a group of burgesses adopted a proposal to boycott British goods. In 1774, they met again and issued a call for a Continental Congress.

A classic scene in historic Williamsburg

A classic scene in historic Williamsburg

From Williamsburg, we drove to Jamestown where we spent the afternoon exploring the site of the original Jamestown settlement:

This is the actual, exact location of the original settlement of Jamestown on the James River. Incredibly, until 1994, the site was thought to be lost to erosion in the river. However, an archiologist persuaded the government to fund a dig on his belief that the site was still upland of the river bank. He was right, and an ongoing dig since then has uncovered the exact location of the walls of the original fort, burial sites, building sites etc.

This is the actual, exact location of the original settlement of Jamestown on the James River. Incredibly, until 1994, the site was thought to have been lost to erosion in the river. However, an archeologist persuaded the government to fund a dig based on his belief that the site was still upland of the river bank. He was right, and an ongoing dig since 1994 has uncovered the exact location of the walls of the original fort, burial sites, building sites etc. The dig was covered with tarps due to the weather when we were there, but on a dry day, you can watch the archeologists work.

This is a model of the original fort built in 1607

This is a model of the original fort built in 1607

Each cross marks the burial site of one of the original settlers who perished in the first year of the settlement. This burial site was just discovered in the last 4 years.

Each cross marks the burial site of one of the original settlers who perished in the first year of the settlement. This burial site was just discovered in the last 4 years.

On Tuesday, we ran 50 miles north on Chesapeake Bay to a small, isolated island called Tangier Island – one of the most unique places we’ve visited the entire trip. First settled in 1686, most of the 700 current residents are descendants of the early settlers – there are only 53 different surnames among the 700 residents. Because of its isolation over the centuries, the residents speak a fabled, lingering style of speech thought to be directly descended from early Elizabethan-era settlers – at times, it is difficult to understand the dialect it is so pronounced. The islanders are also quite religious. Until recently, the entire economy of the island revolved around crabbing, which still clearly dominates the island. The men who live from the sea are known here as “watermen”. In the last few decades, a limited amount of tourism now supplements the economy of the island, though crabbing still dominates island life. Tangier has its own K-12 school, one policeman, a post office, and a volunteer fire department, so it is quite self sufficient.  The people are fiercely independent and proud of their heritage, and most wouldn’t live anywhere else.  The island has a spectacular beach at the south end, which was chosen by the British as their base of operations in the War of 1812 – it was from here that they launced the attack on Washington DC and burned the White House, and from which they launched their attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore – the result of which was the writing of the National Anthem by Francis Scott Key.

Entering the harbor is a unique experience – both sides of the channel are lined with crab shanties standing on pilings in the water. Each has its own dock and a series of crab tanks within the shanty where the waterman sorts the crabs, isolating them as they molt which changes them from hard shell to softshell crabs.

However, there are two evolutions which threaten the very existence of the unique, centuries-old way of life. The first is erosion and rising sea levels fueled by climate change. Nearly all of the island lies just 4 feet or less above sea level, so just a modest rise in sea level threatens to drown the island. The second is a drain of young people needed to continue the traditions and the community. As young people born and raised on the island are increasingly exposed to other ways of life through TV, the internet, social media, etc., more and more opt to leave the island and not return. During our visit, we met two producers working for National Geographic who were spending 4 or 5 days on Tangier and Smith Islands, producing a TV documentary about the island communities and the threats to their culture and existence.

Today, the islanders welcome visitors and are willing to share their way of life in small doses. Small ferry boats bring a limited number of day-visitors from the Virginia and Maryland sides of the Bay. There are three restaurants, a few small gift shops in people’s homes, and a few Bed & Breakfasts for people to stay for a night or two.

Here are some pictures from our stay:

The Joint Adventure docked at the small and rustic Parks Marina, the only place for visitors to dock on the island.

The Joint Adventure docked at the small and rustic Parks Marina, the only place for visitors to dock on the island. It has room for just a few boats.

The owner of Parks Marina is Milton Parks - he is 84 years old and gets from his house to the marina on this motorcycle, which he drives with abandon on the 4' wide docks.

The owner of Parks Marina, Milton Parks, calls himself and everyone else “George” – he is 84 years old and gets around on this motorcycle, which he drives with abandon on the narrow 4′ wide docks with no guard rails. A colorful character!

This map of Tangier Island is painted on the wall of the museum on the island. It shows that the island consists of three separate ridges, separated by salt water marshes. The ridges are connected by paved pathways and wooden bridges.

This map of Tangier Island is painted on the wall of the museum on the island. It shows that the island consists of three separate ridges, separated by salt water marshes. The ridges are connected by paved pathways and wooden bridges.

The isolated and beautiful beach is located on the south end of the island and is accessible only from this wooden footbridge over the marsh.

The isolated and beautiful beach is located on the south end of the island and is accessible only from this wooden footbridge over the marsh.

The view from one ridge of upland to the next across the marsh

The view from one ridge of upland to the next across the marsh

 

A view of the marshes

A view of one of the marshes

A view from the back side of the beach dunes -

A view from the back side of the beach dunes –

About twice a year on average, a combination of high tides and winds cause most of the island to flood with 6"-12" of salt water. As a result, most of the golf carts are parked on a raised ramp to keep them above the water level. The frequency and severity of the flooding is increasing as sea levels rise and the severity of storms increases.

About twice a year on average, a combination of high tides and wind cause most of the island to flood with 6″-12″ of salt water. As a result, most of the golf carts are parked on a raised ramp to keep them above the water level. The frequency and severity of the flooding is increasing as sea levels rise and the severity of storms increases.

Ingenuity reigns on Tangier Island - the two women on the golf cart have a landscape maintenance business - they are moving these two lawn mowers to their next job.

Ingenuity reigns on Tangier Island – the two women in the golf cart have a landscape maintenance business – they are moving these two lawn mowers to their next job.

While most of the houses on the island are more modest, this is the oldest house in Tangier Island

A view of a couple of the homes on Tangier Island.  Most are modest, with very few “vacation” homes often found on other, more upscale islands.

 

A view along the waterfront on Tangier Island

This and following are views of the crab shanties along the waterfront on the channel into Tangier Island

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This is a typical crab boat of the type used by the watermen on Tangier Island

This is a typical crab boat of the type used by the watermen on Tangier Island

We met the Mayor of Tangier Island, who took us out on his crab boat to one of the shanties to see how the crabs are sorted, molted, and processed. He talked about the challenges of erosionand sea level rise facing the island and the islanders way of life. An intelligent, articulate man, his pride in the island and their way of life was impossible to miss.

We met the Mayor of Tangier Island, who took us out on his crab boat to one of the shanties to see how the crabs are sorted, molted, and processed. He talked about the challenges of erosion and sea level rise facing the island and the islanders way of life. An intelligent, articulate man, his pride in the island and their way of life was impossible to miss.

The Mayor brought us to a crab shanty where his friend Dan had just brought in a load of crabs. Dan showed us his operation - he sorts the crabs into different tubsm depending on where they are in the molting process (the process of shedding their hard shell).  the crabs that are about to molt must be isolated, or as soon as they molt, they will be eaten by the other crabs. This crab has just shed its shell - one hand in the picture holds the molted "softshell" crab. The other holds the empty shell that the crab has discarded. Just a couple of hours after the molting, the crab has grown in size by about 15%. In order to manage the process, Dan and his wife must attend to the bins riund the clock every 5-6 hours to separate and sort the crabs in the tubs - while Dan is out catching the next batch, his wife does the sorting.

The Mayor brought us to a crab shanty where his friend Dan had just brought in a load of crabs. Dan showed us his operation – he sorts the crabs into different tubs depending on where they are in the molting process (the process of shedding their hard shell). The crabs that are about to molt must be isolated or they will be eaten by the other crabs as soon as they molt. This crab has just shed its shell – one hand in the picture holds the molted “softshell” crab. The other holds the empty shell that the crab has discarded. Just a couple of hours after the molting, the crab has grown in size by about 10-15%. In order to manage the process, Dan and his wife must attend to the bins round the clock every 5-6 hours to separate and sort the crabs in the tubs – while Dan is out catching the next batch, his wife does the sorting.  When asked about the economics of crabbing, Dan blurted out “I’m broke” and burst out laughing.

Just 12 miles north of Tangier is its sister island, called Smith Island. Tangier is located in Virginia, while Smith is mostly in Maryland. Smith is slightly larger in area but has a population of only 250, compared to 700 on Tangier. Like Tangier, the lifeblood of Smith Island is crabbing. The sparser population makes life a bit more difficult on Smith, since there is much less tourism and therefore fewer service jobs. There are two restaurants (one is actually more of a store/diner), a small museum, a post office, and a church. The island culture is far more vulnerable than Tangier, since there are fewer young people to carry forward and erosion is taking a large toll.  However, the landscape is spectacular, the people are great, and the traditions run deep.

When we ate lunch at Rukes Seafood Deck (the combination store/diner and the only place open for lunch this time of year), Tom asked the storekeeper (Steve), what he would order if he were eating lunch. The manager answered “Wait a minute”, and walked to the door, looked outside, and came back to the table.  When Tom asked him why he had to look outside to decide what he would order, Steve said “I would have ordered cheese steak, but I had to see if the boat came in today because the cheese steak is on the boat”.  A unique place indeed! Here are some pictures:

Ruke's store/diner near the waterfront on Smith Island

Ruke’s store/diner near the waterfront on Smith Island

A map in the small island museum showing Smith Island

A map in the small island museum showing Smith Island

The channel entrance to Smith Island. Subject to shoaling, we came in on a low and falling tide and had to pick our way in carefully.

The channel entrance to Smith Island. Subject to shoaling, we came in on a low and falling tide and had to pick our way in carefully.

Creaky docks leading to a crab sorting building. Much of the infrastructure on the island suffers from lack of maintenance and is in disrepair.  However, crabbing continues to support the island's small population.

Creaky docks leading to a crab sorting building – much of the infrastructure on the island suffers from lack of maintenance and is in disrepair, an indication of the challenges facing the watermen’s way of life. However, crabbing continues to support the island’s small population.

The Smith Island Motel -

The Smith Island Motel –

Our next stop was Solomon Island – a bit of a misnomer, since the former island has been connected to the mainland in Maryland since the 1800’s. Solomon Island is a boating center, with half a dozen marinas containing literally hundreds of slips. There is no beach, but there is a boardwalk with half a dozen good restaurants and perhaps half a dozen shops and boutiques. Pawtuxet Naval Air Station is nearby, so watching fighter jets and other assorted military aircraft circling on training missions is a major attraction. There is also a museum which focuses on local history and natural resources, which features a relocated lighthouse:

The Drum Point Lighthouse operated on Solomon Island from 1883 till 1962, when it was decommissioned.  It was moved to the museum in 1975.

The Drum Point Lighthouse operated on Solomon Island from 1883 till 1962, when it was decommissioned. It was moved to the museum in 1975.

So one of the main attractions in Solomon Island is the night life.  There is a Tiki Bar that is active during the day, but becomes a “happening” at night – at least on a weekend night when we were there. The small street adjacent to the Tiki Bar gets closed off and is turned into a beach party. There is sand along both sides of the street, and there are several more tiki bars and watering holes that open up along the street as well. Seating areas, tables & chairs, cornhole games, etc. are set up in the sand on both sides of the street, and you are free to wander from place to place with your drinks. There is a giant totem pole structure four feet in diameter, apparently hollow, with a flame on top – every once in a while a ball of gas is released and a big fireball shoots into the sky.

So I was sitting at the Tiki Bar enjoying the show when the bartender took out an old wooden ski from under the bar – this is skiing at the Tiki Bar:

The bartender set the old wooden ski on the bar - I notice it has four shot glasses attached to it...

The bartender set the old wooden ski on the bar – I noticed it has four shot glasses attached to it…The bartender carefully filled the shot glasses with the liquor of choice…

It takes four coordinated people to act in unison to use this device...

It takes four coordinated people to act in unison to use this ski properly…

Skiing at the Tiki Bar!

Skiing at the Tiki Bar!

Hmmm…I think I have an old wooden ski in the basement…

On Friday, we ran 50 miles north to the great city of Annapolis, where we remain docked in the inner harbor.  More to come!

 

 

 

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BEARD OIL

Post #52:  BEARD OIL – Day 373, May 9, 2015.  On board:  Jack Kelly;  Tom Thurston (partial);  Jessie Koningisor (partial); Naoko Yamaguchi Schneider (partial)

Beaufort was hosting a boat building contest on Saturday, so we were able to watch part of it before we cast off the lines and headed out. During the 4 hour time limit, each team built a boat that met certain required specifications;  judges chose the best results to be awarded prizes:

Working hard and fast within the 4 hour time limit.

Working hard and fast within the 4 hour time limit.

This boat came in for the festivities:

This boat came in for the festivities Saturday morning. It is steam propelled - the boiler that produces the steam is wood fired.

This wooden boat is steam propelled – the boiler that produces the steam is wood fired.

My friend Jack Kelly flew into North Carolina and joined us early Saturday afternoon. Soon after he arrived we cast off the lines on a somewhat windy day for a 25 mile run to Oriental, North Carolina. A small 12-block town on the edge of the wide Neuse River, Oriental has half a dozen restaurants, a few commercial establishments, and some 19th century, well-kept homes. Here are some pictures:

Dating from 1880, more than 20 of these artesian wells/fresh water springs provided water to Oriental residents until the 1960's. The concrete benches were added in the 1920's, providing a place for residents to gather and socialize under this 200 year old willow oak when they came to get water.

Dating from the 1880, more than 20 of these artesian wells/fresh water springs provided water to Oriental residents until the 1960’s. The concrete benches were added in the 1920’s, providing a place for residents to gather and socialize under this 200 year old willow oak when they came to get water.

The Joint Adventure docked at the marina in Oriental

The Joint Adventure docked at the marina in Oriental. Fresh water shrimping is a major industry in Oriental – the anchor in the foreground is on the bow of a large shrimp boat across the harbor from the Joint Adventure

We're still in the Bible Belt....

We’re still in the Bible Belt….

We celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our Great Loop voyage with a toast in Oriental -

We celebrated the 1 year anniversary of our Great Loop voyage with a toast in Oriental – left to right, Jim K, Jack Kelly, and Tom Thurston

Our next stop was Belhaven, N. C. after a 50 mile run in the wide, open waters of the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Notorious for steep, closely-spaced waves, we wanted a relatively calm day, and we got it after several days of fairly strong winds. Belhaven is a small, sleepy town that seems to be struggling economically. The town was first settled in 1868 and grew by producing lumber products in several mills. When a rail line was built to Norfolk, the town became an important transportation artery for the distribution of goods throughout eastern North Carolina due to its location on Pamlico Sound. Belhaven calls itself “the birthplace of the ICW” because the last remaining link – the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal – was completed and opened in 1928. The celebration in Belhaven for the opening was attended by 20,000 people and included two Navy seaplanes, several Coast Guard cutters, and an Army blimp. Today, local businesses primarily serve local farming communities and local residents. There are some very attractive buildings in the small, downtown area, but there are a number of vacant storefronts,and within blocks of Main Street, vacant, derelict buildings are frequent. Here are two of the prominent historic buildings in town:

Belhaven City Hall, a beautiful, 19th century brick building

Belhaven City Hall, a beautiful, 19th century brick building

The River Street Manor overlooks the wide Pongo River.  Built in 1904, it was home to a local lumber baron. A renovation is planned to convert the historic building to a venue for special events, uch as weddings.

The River Street Manor overlooks the wide Pongo River. Built in 1904, it was home to a local lumber baron. A renovation is planned to convert the historic building to a venue for special events, such as weddings.

This is a tidbit of information that I picked up in Belhaven that you probably didn’t know….

AAAABH-Shit

The next day’s run started with a 22 mile run through the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, followed by a 21 mile run on the open waters of the Alligator River.  Fortunately, we had another day of light winds, so it was a pleasant run. We stayed at the Alligator River Marina due to its location rather than its amenities – it basically consists of a Shell gas station along a highway with docks behind it – perhaps the least attractive stop of our trip (we’ve stayed at other rural, sometimes somewhat derelict marinas, but each seemed to have some redeeming feature that provided character…). The Alligator River was our rendezvous point where, unfortunately, Tom Thurston left the trip to go back to real life; fortunately, however, my daughter Jessie and her friend Naoko from Japan joined us. Here are some pictures:

While sufficiently wide, the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal had many stumps protruding near the banks, so we paid close attention...

While sufficiently wide, the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal had many stumps protruding near the banks, so we paid close attention…

We cooked a great fish dinner on board while at the Alligator River Marina - I had two large filets of mahi-mahi and hogfish that I had bought right off a boat in the Bahamas and immediately put it in the freezer, which we combined with fresh salad and rice - and a healthy dose of wine. From left to right, Jessie, Naoko, and Jack.

We cooked a great fish dinner on board while at the Alligator River Marina – I had two large filets of mahi-mahi and hogfish that I had bought right off a boat in the Bahamas and immediately put it in the freezer, which we combined with fresh salad and rice – and a healthy dose of wine. From left to right, Jessie, Naoko, and Jack.

We left the next morning for Elizabeth City, crossing the notorious Albemarle Sound – it’s shallow water, frequent winds, and geographic orientation has made it legendary for unpleasant passages. We left fairly early to try to get across before the wind picked up, which turned out to be wise – we were entering the more protected Pasquotank River as the winds began to build. A few pictures from the run:

A capable helmsman....

Jessie at the helm on a still-calm Albemarle Sound….

Naoko expertly guiding us up the Pasquotank River towards Elizabeth City -

Naoko expertly guiding us up the Pasquotank River towards Elizabeth City, despite a maze of crab pot floats to avoid  –

Approaching Elizabeth City, this enormous building looms on the horizon - it is the TCOM Blimp Hanger where - yes, they store blimps...

Approaching Elizabeth City, this enormous building looms on the horizon – it is the TCOM Blimp Hanger where – yes, they store blimps…

Elizabeth City grew in colonial days due to its location on the Pasquotank River, its abundance of lumber, and the opening of the Dismal Swamp Canal in 1805. Today, the city has many historical buildings and a wonderful waterfront, which it leverages by providing free overnight dockage, restrooms, and showers available to transient boaters. It also boasts a surprisingly large and comprehensive museum in a beautiful, new building, and the historic district is significant. The City does seem to be struggling a bit economically, however, as evidenced by a number of vacant storefronts in the downtown area.

Here are a few pictures:

Historic buildings in the downtown area -

Historic buildings in the downtown area –

AAAAEC-building3

This home was built by a wealthy merchant as a wedding present to his daughter in 1914. It remains a private residence in the same family.

This home was built by a wealthy merchant as a wedding present to his daughter in 1914. It remains a private residence in the same family.

So two of Jessie’s Law School friends whom I count among my friends as well, Lou and Brandon, have apparently been experimenting with various concoctions, one of which is beard oil. Having seen my beard on the blog, they thought this would be a good opportunity to do some market research so they sent a bottle with Jessie for me to try. Now I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “beard oil”, so I didn’t really have much to compare to. I do know that my beard frequently (always?) looks frazzled and perhaps rather silly, so I was certainly willing to try it out. However, I didn’t know what to do with it, so I asked Jessie to inquire about some instructions. The reply came back:  “(1) Rise early  (2) Rub on beard  (3) Seek adventure”.  Not quite as detailed as I had hoped. I then inquired whether it was flammable or not. The reply came back:  “Oh, we didn’t test for that – we’re not engineers…”.   Not one to be deterred, with Jessie’s help, I tried it out:

Don't pull!!

Don’t pull!!

Rub it in....

Rub it in….

Does it look any different?

Does it look any different?

I think it’s a lost cause….

Leaving Elizabeth City, there is an 18 mile run up the narrowing Pasquotank River to a lock which marks the beginning of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The lock only opens at specific times several hours apart, so we cast off the lines at 6:30 AM to make the 8:30 lock opening. This part of the river is one of the most scenic rivers on the Great Loop. Here are some images:

The river is perhaps two football fields wide at Elizabeth City, but rapidly narrows as it heads north. It was early in the morning so the water was like glass as we headed up the river.

The river is perhaps two football fields wide at Elizabeth City, but rapidly narrows as it heads north. It was early in the morning so the water was like glass as we headed up the river.

Cypress trees growing out of the water along the banks of the river

Cypress trees growing out of the water along the banks of the river

Notice the near-perfect reflection of the trees on the perfectly still water of the river

Notice the near-perfect reflection of the trees on the perfectly still water of the river

An eagle presiding over its kingdom as we quietly passed through

An eagle presiding over its kingdom as we quietly passed through

The name “Great Dismal Swamp” is a misnomer – it is not dismal at all. The name is a carryover from the maps of early explorers, who often labeled swamps as “dismals” because they had no economic value at that time and were an impediment to exploration and transportation. For some reason, the label “dismal” stuck to this particular swamp and became its name. In 1763, none other than George Washington proposed digging a canal to connect the waters of Albemarle Sound to Chesapeake Bay. He became president of the privately-held Dismal Swamp Land Company, and directed the surveying and digging of the first 5 miles of the canal. However, by 1796, Washington became disappointed in the management of the project, and contracted to sell his share to “Lighthorse” Harry Lee – father of Robert E. Lee.  Lee was unable to come up with the money, however, and Washington’s interest remained part of his estate when he died in 1799.

The canal took 12 1/2 years to build, and was dug by hand by slave labor. It opened in 1805, and is the oldest continually operated man-made canal in North America. During the Civil War, the Canal and the swamp took on two important roles in American history. First, the Union Army tried but failed to blow up the locks at South Mills in an attempt to cut off the Dismal Swamp as a route for the Confederate Army to supply Norfolk and the surrounding area. They later did take control of the canal.  Second, many run-away slaves hid in the swamp, even forming small, hidden settlements, where they lived throughout the war. The swamp also became part of a route to the north for slaves seeking freedom.

Today, there is no commercial traffic on the canal – it is used only be recreational vessels, and serves as one of two optional routes of the ICW. The canal is narrow and full of “deadheads” – submerged logs – so many if not most boats transiting the ICW choose the alternate “Virginia Cut” route. We chose the Dismal Canal route due to its beauty and uniqueness. Here are some pictures:

Approaching the lock at the start of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The Dismal Swamp is higher than the Pasquotank River at the southern end and Chesapeake Bay at the northern end. Hence, a lock at each end raises and lowers boats about 8 feet to enter or leave the Canal.

Approaching the lock at the start of the Dismal Swamp Canal. The Dismal Swamp is higher than the Pasquotank River at the southern end and Chesapeake Bay at the northern end. Hence, a lock at each end raises and lowers boats about 8 feet to enter or leave the Canal.

An excited Penny from the vessel "Penny Pincher", whom we had met the evening before at the docks in Elizabeth City.

An excited Penny from the vessel “Penny Pincher”, whom we had met the evening before at the docks in Elizabeth City.

The classic boat "Windrush", which entered the lock with us. The boat was built in the 1960's and the owner, Dave, now lives on her. His home port is on the Chesapeake.

The classic boat “Windrush”, which entered the lock with us. The boat was built in the 1960’s and the owner, Dave, now lives on her. His home port is on the Chesapeake.

There is a wonderful Visitors Center on the Canal. Dockage is limited, and there we barely squeezed in at one end of the dock - I turned around to dock in order to keep my stern and propellers away from a submerged stump about 2 feet in front of the boat. There was no place for Windrush to tie up, so we rafted her to the Joint Adventure so Dave and his crew could go to the Visitors Center.

There is a wonderful Visitors Center on the Canal. Dockage is limited, and we barely squeezed in at one end of the dock – I turned around to dock in order to keep the stern and propellers away from a submerged stump about 2 feet in front of the boat. There was no place for Windrush to tie up, so we rafted her to the Joint Adventure so Dave and his crew could go to the Visitors Center. He is facing north, the direction of our travel, while the Joint Adventure is facing south.

There is a half-mile boardwalk hike into the Dismal Swamp, originating at the Visitors Center

There is a beautiful half-mile boardwalk hike into the Dismal Swamp, originating at the Visitors Center

There are 20 miles of hiking and biking trails into the swamp - they started as old logging roads and now provide a way to explore the depths of the swamp. Bikes can be rented at the Visitors Center.

There are 20 miles of hiking and biking trails into the swamp – they started as old logging roads and now provide a way to explore the depths of the swamp. Bikes can be rented at the Visitors Center.

During Prohibition, the Great Dismal Swamp was an ideal hideaway for distilleries making bootleg moonshine. This is a replica of one of the many distilleries hidden in the swamp during that period. When discovered, oppiciald would destroy the distilleries. Ruins of several actual distilleries can be seen along the trails through the swamp.

During Prohibition, the Great Dismal Swamp was an ideal hideaway for distilleries making bootleg moonshine. This is a replica of one of the many distilleries hidden in the swamp during that period. When discovered, officials would destroy the distilleries. Ruins of several actual distilleries can be seen along the trails through the swamp.

 

We continued northward in the afternoon after spending a few hours docked at the Visitors Center

We continued northward in the afternoon after spending a few hours docked at the Visitors Center

Enormous cypress trees in the swamp as seen from the Canal

Enormous cypress trees in the swamp as seen from the Canal

Within 5 miles of exiting the Great Dismal Swamp at the northern end of the canal, the landscape changes abruptly as one enters the southern end of Norfolk Harbor. Norfolk boasts that it has the largest natural harbor in the world. Pristine landscapes abruptly change to massive industrial uses;  the massive industrial uses then abruptly change to massive military uses. There are more military personnel within 15 miles of Norfolk that at anyplace else in the world. The presence of the Navy quickly becomes obvious:

The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, docked in Norfolk.  I'm told that 5 of the 11 full-sized aircraft carriers are based in Norfolk. While the U. S. has eleven, I'm told that only eight others exist in the world, and no other country, including Russia, has more than one.

The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, docked in Norfolk. I’m told that 5 of the 11 full-sized U. S. aircraft carriers are based in Norfolk. While the U. S. has eleven, I’m told that only eight others exist in the world, and no other country, including Russia, has more than one.

 

Other Navy vessels along Norfolk harbor when entering from the south

Other Navy vessels along Norfolk harbor when entering from the south

The Navy presence is weaved into the fabric of the city throughout. With its strategic location in the middle of the Atlantic coast and its large, protected harbor, Norfolk quickly became a Navy shipbuilding center after the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. As the growing nation lurched from periods of war to periods of peace, the economy of Norfolk lurched accordingly – employment soared during periods of military build-up, and waned during periods of drawdown. The relationship between the Navy and the city has not always been easy. Between 1917 and the end of World War II, the relationship faced two basic problems. The first was entertainment for the sailors stationed in Norfolk, whose racous behavior sometimes irritated the local people – one humorist dubbed the city “the Hong Kong of the Albemarle”. The other problem involved the provision of city services such as water, electricity, and transportation, which the city could not always provide.

Today, the city, along with its sister city of Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River, is active and vibrant, and its Naval history is on display throughout.  Here are some pictures from our stay in Norfolk:

This is a statue along the waterfront of a soldier returning home to his family -

This is a statue along the waterfront of a soldier returning home to his family –

This is perhaps the most emotional monument we've seen on the entire trip - it is a series of about 20 letters printed on bronze plaques randomly placed across the plaza, as if scattered by the wind. Each was written to a loved one by a soldier who never returned home. Some letters date back to the American Revolution, while the more recent ones are from Viet Nam and the Iraqi War. They bring tears to your eyes.

The Armed Forces Memorial is perhaps the most emotional memorial we’ve seen on the entire trip – it is a series of about 20 letters printed on bronze plaques randomly placed across the plaza, as if scattered by the wind. Each was written to a loved one by a soldier who never returned home – some died within days of writing the letter.  Some letters date back to the American Revolution, while the more recent ones are from World War II, Viet Nam, and the Iraqi War. They bring tears to your eyes.

The USS Wisconsin, an Iowa-class battleship that was launched in 1943 and served through the Iraqi War is permanently docked for public boarding as part of the Naval Shipyard Museum in Norfolk - well worth a visit.

The USS Wisconsin, an Iowa-class battleship that was launched in 1943 and served through the Iraqi War, is permanently docked for public boarding as part of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk – well worth a visit.

A photo in the Naval Museum shows the first airplane to take off from the deck of a ship.  YIKES!  Thus Naval aviation was born in Hampton Roads at Norfolk in 1910 when this pusher biplane flew off a "flight deck" constructed on the USS Birmingham. The flight to Willoughby Island took just five minutes, but it success signaled the advent of aircraft carriers.

A photo in the Naval Museum shows the first airplane to take off from the deck of a ship. YIKES!  Thus Naval aviation was born in Hampton Roads at Norfolk in 1910 when this pusher biplane flew off a “flight deck” constructed on the USS Birmingham. The flight to Willoughby Island took just five minutes, but it success signaled the advent of aircraft carriers.

A number of World War II era recruit signs, displayed in the Naval Shipyard Museum, would be considered sexist today....

A number of World War II era recruit signs displayed in the Naval Museum are quite dated and would be considered sexist today….

Another example....

Another example….

Stemming from its naval history and ties to the sea, the mermaid has become an icon in Norfolk - there are numerous mermaid statues at various locations throughout the city -

Stemming from its naval history and ties to the sea, the mermaid has become an icon in Norfolk – there are numerous mermaid statues at various locations throughout the city –

Here are two more -

Here are two more –

The Historic District in Norfolk includes buildings from the 1700's and 1800's.  Notice the cobblestone street.

The Historic District in Norfolk includes buildings from the 1700’s and 1800’s. Notice the cobblestone street.

An spectacular church in the historic district of Norfolk

An spectacular church in the historic district of Norfolk

General MacArthur lived part of his life in Norfolk, so there is an extensive memorial to his life and achievements. While celebrating his remarkable record in World War II and the Korean War, the memorial also deals with the controversy surrounding his outspoken nature and his ultimate dismissal by President Truman. While the MacArthur/Truman relationship is well know, less publicized is the enigmatic relationship between MacArthur and President Roosevelt. Roosevelt once called MacArthur “the most dangerous man in America”, while MacArthur once described Roosevelt as “a man who never told the truth if a lie would suffice.”  The MacArthur Memorial is well worth a visit:

The MacArthur Memorial is a fascinating walk through history based on the brilliant yet controversial career of General Douglas MacArthur.

The MacArthur Memorial is a fascinating walk through history based on the brilliant yet controversial career of General Douglas MacArthur.

General MacArthur and his wife Jean, who lived to be 102, are laid to rest in the MacArthur Memorial

General MacArthur and his wife Jean, who lived to be 102, are laid to rest in the MacArthur Memorial

One last picture from our stay:

AAAAN-Alcohol

Norfolk is Mile 0 on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, so our journey now heads north into the relatively open waters Chesapeake Bay. More to come!

 

 

 

 

 

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ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY; MARSHES AND MUD, BEACHES AND SAND

Post #51:  ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY;  MARSHES & MUD, BEACHES & SAND;  Day 366, May 2, 2015;  On Board:  Tom Thurston;  Jim K.

One year ago today, we cast off the lines in Boston to begin our adventure around the Great Loop. In my first blog post, I wrote:

“I just looked up ‘adventure’ in Webster’s Dictionary – it defines ‘adventure’ as ‘an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity’.  YIKES!  One on my goals is for this adventure NOT to be hazardous!  Another goal is that it not be TOO exciting.  But it certainly will be interesting, and it certainly will stretch the envelope and be challenging.”

So as I look back on the past year, the journey certainly has met those expectations and more – although at times there was a bit more “excitement” than I may have wished for! But here we are a year later, just five or six weeks from returning home with a wealth of new experiences.

So back to the present – before Jake & Elissa left the boat in Charleston, they gave me a “survival” kit to help me carry on:

Cheerios, Bugles, cashews, and Charleston Chews - what more could anyone need?

Cheerios, Bugles, cashews, and Charleston Chews – what more could anyone need?

I hated to see them leave, but I was happy to have Tom Thurston join me for the next week. Our first day was a nearly 70 mile run to Georgetown, South Carolina. Some pictures from the ICW:

A happy house -

A happy house –

An isolated home set in the marsh along the ICW

An isolated home set in the marsh along the ICW

This is a "floating swing bridge" - the only such bridge we've encountered on the entire trip. It remains tied parallel to the river as shown here when not being utilized.

This is a “floating swing bridge” – the only such bridge we’ve encountered on the entire trip. It remains tied parallel to the river as shown here when not being utilized.

This "bow thruster" is attached to one end of the swing bridge. To put it in place so vehicles can cross, the "floating bridge" is untied, the bow thruster is lowered into the water and activated, swinging the "bow" of the bridge into the river.

This “bow thruster” (propeller) is attached to one end of the swing bridge. To put it in place so vehicles can cross, the “floating bridge” is untied, then the propeller is lowered into the water and activated, swinging the moveable end of the bridge into the river.

When the "bow thruster" swings the bow into the river, the floating bridge pivots on the post at the other end. When it swings all the way around perpendicular to the river, the "bow is secured to the other shore and vehicles can then cross on the floating bridge.

When the propeller is activated to swing the bridge into the river, the floating bridge pivots on the post at the other end. When it swings all the way around perpendicular to the river, the moveable end of the bridge is secured to the other shore and vehicles can then cross on the floating bridge.

Our next stop, Georgetown, is the third oldest city in South Carolina, having been founded in 1732. Indigo was the first cash crop in Georgetown, and brought great wealth to plantation owners until the Revolutionary War cut off the indigo market with England. Rice then replaced indigo, which required huge quantities of slave labor – before long, 85% of the population of Georgetown County were slaves. After the Civil War, lumber replaced rice as Georgetown’s principal product, and by 1913, Georgetown was home to the largest lumber mill on the East Coast. In 1936, International Paper built a paper mill in Georgetown, and in the late 1960’s, a steel mil was built. Both mills are still in operation, providing jobs and helping to drive the local economy.

Georgetown today is a pleasant working town with many historical buildings and a new boardwalk along the riverfront with several restaurants with outdoor seating. Here are some images:

The riverfront boardwalk in Georgetown

The riverfront boardwalk in Georgetown

Historic Front Street -

Historic Front Street –

Also on Front Street -

Also on Front Street –

George Washington stayed in this house on his tour of the South in 1791

George Washington stayed in this house on his tour of the South in 1791

This is a monument in the cemetery in Georgetown, honoring Confederate soldiers.

This is a monument in the cemetery in Georgetown, honoring Confederate soldiers.

This is the inscription on the Confederate monument shown above. I thought it to be unusual and unlike anything else I had seen in the South.

This is the inscription on the Confederate monument shown above. I thought the message to be unusual and unlike anything else I had seen in the South.

 

I just commented in my last post that I had seen no Confederate flags in South Carolina - this picture is from the same cemetery as the monument above....

I just commented in my last post that I had seen no Confederate flags in South Carolina – this picture is from the same cemetery as the monument shown above….

Our next stop was Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after a 50 mile run. Much like Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach is about beaches and golf. Here are a few pictures from our stay in Myrtle Beach:

This tram carries golfers over the Intracoastal Waterway from one side of a golf course to the other - look closely and you can see the golf bags hooked to the side of each gondola.

This tram carries golfers over the Intracoastal Waterway from one side of a golf course to the other – look closely and you can see the golf bags hooked to the side of each gondola.

The beach at Myrtle Beach - too cold for me to swim!

The beach at Myrtle Beach – too cold for me to swim!

Another indication that we've entered a different climatic zone....

An indication that we’ve entered a different climatic zone….

The House of Blues in Myrtle Beach -

The House of Blues in Myrtle Beach –

The Alabama Theater in Myrtle Beach. A live musical revue/dance/comedy show was being performed the night we were in Myrtle Beach, so I bought a ticket and went - the show was terrific and the person who performed the comedy routine was so good that I bought a CD (which I never do).  His name is Ricky Mokel in case you run hear of a performance by him.  He does shows on TV as well.

The Alabama Theater in Myrtle Beach. A live musical revue/dance/comedy show was being performed the night we were in Myrtle Beach, so I bought a ticket and went – the show was terrific and the person who performed the comedy routine was so good that I bought a CD. His name is Ricky Mokel in case you hear of a performance by him. He does shows on TV as well.

So the ICW in Florida runs inside a series of barrier islands, essentially parallel to the mainland. The shoreline is dominated by sand beaches along nearly all of the Florida coastline. Sand is everywhere.  In Georgia and South Carolina, however, known as the Low Country, it changes dramatically. The barrier islands disappear, and the coastline is dominated by marshes.  Sand disappears as well, replaced by mud built up by decaying plant material over countless eons. The ICW changes from a linear waterway following the coastline to a meandering pathway that utilizes rivers, creeks, estuaries, and man-made cuts to form a contiguous but zig-zag waterway through the marshes. Though the overall direction is northerly, the route wanders through nearly every point on the compass. However, once you approach the North Carolina border, the world changes yet again. The Low Country marshes disappear, replaced once again by sand and barrier islands. Instead of marshes, the ICW is bordered by cypress swamps and sand dunes. But that isn’t all that is different – the climate has changed as well. Long pants and sweatshirts have re-appeared, and shorts are confined to a few hours in the afternoon, if at all. The “high season” was ending in Florida, while it is just ready to begin here in North Carolina. We are indeed moving north.

Here are some images of the ICW as we head into this new and changing environment:

Cypress trees along the ICW as we enter North Carolina

Cypress trees along the ICW as we enter North Carolina

Sandy beaches predominate along the barrier islands on the ocean side of the ICW

Sandy beaches predominate along the barrier islands on the ocean side of the ICW

Looking east toward from the ICW, beach houses line the ocean beaches

Looking east toward from the ICW, beach houses line the ocean beaches

Tom Thurston piloting the Joint Adventure up the ICW

Tom Thurston piloting the Joint Adventure up the ICW

There are numerous drawbridges along the ICW, especially in Florida. Our "air draft" (height above the water level) is about 18' with our antenna down - we can get down to 16' by lowering the radar tower, which we did several times in the northern canals & rivers, and we can get down to 11 1/2' by taking the bimini down.  We can get under most drawbridges without an opening since we left Florida, but this one was just to close. It opens only once every hour, so we tied to the dock at a nearby marina while we waited about 20 minutes for an opening at the top of the hour.

There are numerous drawbridges along the ICW, especially in Florida. Our “air draft” (height above the water level) is about 18′ with our antenna down – we can reduce our height to just under 16′ by lowering the radar tower, which we did several times in the northern canals & rivers, and we can further reduce our height to 11 1/2′ by taking the bimini down. We can get under most drawbridges without an opening since we left Florida, but this one was just too close. It opens only once every hour, so we tied to the dock at a nearby marina while we waited about 20 minutes for an opening at the top of the hour.

Another milestone!  We crossed into our next state – North Carolina – and stopped at Carolina Beach after about a 60 mile run. Carolina Beach is an older beach community with a new, extensive wood boardwalk – the beach area reminds me somewhat of Hull in Massachusetts. Here are a few pictures:

The beach as seen from the new boardwalk -

The beach as seen from the new boardwalk –

This guy was looking for a handout at the beach, I think -

This guy was looking for a handout at the beach, I think –

Every stop can’t be a resort – our stop at Sneads Ferry, North Carolina was anything but – a bit rustic, as they say, sort of in the middle of nowhere. But it was in a location that broke up an otherwise long stretch, so we pulled in, as planned. However, there is a restaurant three miles away that was willing to pick us up at the marina, then drive us back after dinner.  So off we went. The person who picked us up, a warm, twenty-something man named Andrew, is the grandson of the man who opened the restaurant in 1947 – the third generation in a family-owned business. One thing I’ve learned on this trip – the best restaurants are usually not the chic, urban establishments, but the small, out-of-the-way, rural, family owned restaurants where mostly locals who know good food and good value go for meals. Places like Mudcat Charlie’s, as described in a previous blog update. And the Riverview Café in Sneads Ferry might be the best of them all. On the way to the restaurant, I asked Andrew what his best, freshest fish was. He said his favorite was fried sea mullet (sea mullet?) – they just brought some in today, fresh caught. I told him I can’t eat much fried food, could they grill it?  Sure, they can grill it, he said. When my meal arrived, there were three big fillets, plus the “backbone” (the part of the fish that’s left after they fillet it). Perhaps the best fish I’ve ever had. I learned when Andrew drove us back to the marina that, despite the fact that Andrew isn’t the cook, he went into the kitchen and grilled it himself, the way he likes it cooked. The entire dinner, including two sides, was $9.95. He told us on our ride back to the boat that he buys the sea mullet for $1.50/pound, because it’s an “undiscovered” local fish. Great meal – but no great meal is complete without desert. All homemade pies, made fresh every day. I couldn’t decide between peanut butter pie and coconut pie, so I had slice of peanut butter pie for desert and got a coconut pie to go.

So – my theory of restaurants – look for the out-of-the-way, rural places where only the locals go – that’s where the real gems are.

Here are a couple of pictures from Sneads Ferry:

Swan Point Marina - this is all there is -

Swan Point Marina – this is all there is –

Sneads Ferry turns out to be home to a Coat Guard Training Center - the guns on the front of these boats are real machine guns with real bullets....

Sneads Ferry turns out to be home to a Coat Guard Training Center – the guns on the front of these boats are real machine guns with real bullets….I asked permission before I took this picture….

Riverview Restaurant in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

Riverview Restaurant in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

Andrew, manager of the Riverview Restaurant - he buys all the seafood for the restaurant, and he knows his business!

Andrew, manager of the Riverview Restaurant – he buys all the seafood for the restaurant, and he knows his business!

On Thursday, we cast off the lines in a light drizzle, expecting to avoid predicted heavy rain in the area. We succeeded until we were about an hour from Beaufort, N.C., when the skies opened up. The pouring rain ended just before we reached Beaufort, however, so we stayed dry while we docked.

Beaufort is a small, historic town with many homes and commercial buildings built in the 1800’s along the waterfront and throughout the historic district. The town has many restaurants, pubs, boutiques, and shops. It also sits adjacent to Cape Lookout, at the southern end of the extensive barrier island system off the coast of North Carolina that includes Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk. Across the channel from Beaufort itself is Shackleford Banks, one of the few places in the Eastern United States that is home to herds of wild horses. The horses have Spanish ancestry, and their origins are believed to date back to colonial times. You can take tours to view the wild horses on the island.

Here are a few pictures from our stay in Beaufort:

The General Store along the Beaufort waterfront

The General Store along the Beaufort waterfront

This "capsule" is on display in the interesting Maritime Museum in Beaufort. It was used to rescue stranded passengers and crewmembers from shipwrecks along the Cape Lookout/Cape Hatteras shoals. A cannon would shoot a line from the beach to a wrecked ship, then the capsule would be pulled out to the ship. Up to 11 people would climb into the capsule, in a lying position. The capsule would then be sealed, the occupants essentially immobile and in complete darkness. The capsule would then be pulled through the breaking waves and wild surf, being violently tossed and rolled on its way to shore - what a harrowing experience that must have been!

This “capsule” is on display in the interesting Maritime Museum in Beaufort. It was used to rescue stranded passengers and crewmembers from shipwrecks along the Cape Lookout/Cape Hatteras shoals. A cannon would shoot a line from the beach to a wrecked ship, then the capsule would be pulled out to the ship. Up to 11 people would climb into the capsule, in a lying position. The capsule would then be sealed, the occupants essentially immobile and in complete darkness. The capsule would then be pulled through the breaking waves and wild surf, being violently tossed and rolled on its way to shore – what a harrowing experience that must have been, sealed in that container!

 

An ancient cemetery containing the remains of soldiers from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

An ancient cemetery in Beaufort containing the remains of soldiers from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Along the way, I sometimes see signs or placards or T-shirts with clever or humorous messages that make me chuckle.  Here are a few that I’ve seen here or there over the past couple of months might make you chuckle as well:

AAAAHT-Husband for sale

AAAAHT-man speaks

AAAAHT-sign2

AAAAHT-sign3

So today (Saturday), my good friend Jack Kelly joins us for our run to Norfolk. More to come!

 

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