We are off, again; leaving Deltaville after two and one-half months (only 2 weeks behind schedule, good for the “Shep Factor”) spent on boat repairs/maintenance/upgrades. The first evening, High ZZ’s was lying peacefully at anchor (on the rode) at Red “36”, the official start of the ICW, at Hospital Point, Portsmouth, VA. Wow, did we learn a lot about boat maintenance, life “on the hard” and the cruising community. Our newest upgrade, 300 watts of solar panels, silently charged the batteries as we sailed the 50 nm from Deltaville to Portsmouth. Got to love modern technology! I learned all about wire sizing for <3% drop in current, what a “shunt” does, how to attach solar panels to a bimini arch….who said that you cannot teach old dogs new tricks? Many thanks to Craig, Bill, Steve, Mark… did we mention how friendly and helpful fellow cruisers are? Our new friends on Tilt, Casa Blanca, Motu, and old friends on Rachel can be counted on to loan you tools, offer expert advice, a consoling ear when things go wrong…. Many think that when they start cruising, they will be out there, alone, left to their own devices; but nothing could be further than the truth. Fellow cruisers are quick to lend a hand and offer assistance, and this makes the loss of contact with “land friends” much easier to take. Not a day goes by when you don’t get some useful tidbit from fellow cruisers.
A useful tidbit we received: “try the Dismal Swamp Canal, if only just once, you will love it.” Well we would have to say that the third time in the Dismal Swamp, we finally did enjoy. DS trip one, early February, not a good time: too cold, too many snags overhead and in the water. DS trip two, mid-June: hot and buggy, no breeze, crowded visitor center docks. DS trip three, mid-October, very nice! No bugs, high 70’s, nice breeze, only one other boat at the free dock, Canadians Richard and Heather on Salvation, very friendly. We can finally recommend it to others. Another good recommendation was to stop in Elizabeth City. Very friendly town with free docks, a “Rose Buddies” hosted wine and cheese reception (if five or more new boats show on the same day), and lots of neat little shops to visit in the rainy weather we had. One strong word of caution, the free docks at Mariner’s Warf are very exposed and have very rough water in all but the most settled weather. After taking a beating all night, we shifted back north, above the drawbridge, to Jennette Brothers docks (also a free place run by a local food distributor)…see how friendly EC is!
We hope to be moving again Thursday, after this big front passes. We will try to get to the FL/GA line as early in November as possible (cannot cross the 31st parallel until the hurricane season is officially over Nov. 1, unless we want to risk being uninsured). Our goal is Venice FL, sometime in early December…but we know the rule: you can say when, or you can say where, but when cruising on a sailboat, you just cannot say
when and where at the same time.