Leaving the Chesapeake: Fall 2007

Saturday Oct. 20th: Atlantic Yacht Basin

Today we say goodbye to Idyll Time and start our road trip home to Chattanooga, TN. We have spent the last few days cleaning and packing up gear. Idyll Time will spend the winter here in Great Bridge at Atlantic Yacht Basin. She is in a covered shed with many other boats.

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Jeff will return in November to check on her and also winterize the engines and other systems which could freeze. We are a little apprehensive about leaving her. This is the first time that we have left her for more than a few weeks. Many people leave their boats here at AYB and they seem to do a great job.

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They will plug her into shore power every month to recharge the batteries. They also have a night watchman who makes his rounds every few hours. He will also check our lines and fenders daily.

We will return in March after our Kilimanjaro Climb in Africa to continue our travel adventures on the water. In the meantime, we will be doing some intensive physical training and hiking for our climb in January. Several people have asked for us to keep a log of our Kilimanjaro climb. Please check back in early March and we will post our journal on the climb. We will continue our logs on Idyll Time in April as we make our way north through New York harbor and hopefully up the coast of Maine.

Below are some statistics on our trip this year:

Total Miles Traveled: 3607
Total Locks: 24
Total Days: 262
Days spent at Marinas: 218
Days spent at anchor: 44
Travel Days: 82
Total fuel consumed: 1587 gallons
Engine Hours: 494.6
Generator Hours: 356
Miles per Gallon: 2.93
Gallons per hour: 2.49

Tuesday Oct.16th: Norfolk to Great Bridge

Today is our last travel day on the water for 2007. The weather gods are shining on us today and we have crystal clear skies with little wind. Waterdog leaves just before us. Although we only have 12 miles to travel today, we have seven bridges and one lock to traverse. The Jordan Highway Bridge does not open between 6:30 and 8:30 AM so we delay our departure. We pull away from Ocean Marine at 9:30 AM and enter the Elizabeth River at mile marker 1 on the ICW. We approach our first bridge, N & P Beltline lift, which is usually open. As we get near, we see that it is in fact open. Just as we approach, the bridge closes for a train. We hope this is not an indication of how our day will go.

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After about a 15 minute wait the bridge opens. The Jordan Highway Lift Bridge is just a few hundred yards past and opens at the same time.

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We now have a lot of traffic with us as everyone was waiting for the openings. We have a tug, three sailboats, and four other power boats traveling down river with us. The harbor is a very commercial with many container ships and also Navy ships at dry dock.

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Our next bridge, The N & W RR Lift Bridge is just ½ mile away and is usually open. We see it opening as we approach. There are four men working in the water under the bridge. We slow to idle speed not to wake them as we pass. One of the boats in front of us went barreling through and caused a big wake around the workers. Some people don’t seem to have a clue when they are on the water. The next two bridges are the Gilmerton RR and Gilmerton Highway Bridge which are two miles down stream. We reach the bridge at 10:25 to find it closed also. We wait about 15 minutes for this opening.

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Our next bridge is the Steel Highway Bridge, 3 miles downstream. The Steel Bridge only opens on the hour. We have 35 minutes to make this opening and should be there in plenty of time. As we approach the Steel Highway Bridge, we see Waterdog waiting. They left over 30 minutes before us but did not make the 10:00 AM opening. We have a 20 minute wait until the 11:00 AM opening.

Great Bridge Lock is 2.5 miles from the Steel Bridge. This lock opens on the ½ hour for south bound traffic and on the hour for north bound traffic. It looks like there will be a full house today for the locks. We put our fenders and lines out for a starboard tie. We would prefer this tie as we have a walk around on the starboard side. We won’t know until entering the locks where everyone in front of us is going. If we have to do a portside tie, it will be necessary to make a quick change of lines and fenders. There are about 20 boats ahead of us waiting to go into the locks. The catamaran just in front of us pulls into the last spot along the lock wall. Just as it appears that we will have to wait another hour for the next opening, the lock master tells us to come on in and tie up on the port side behind the catamaran. We do what he says and come on in. I have to quickly change our finders to the other side. How does he think we can fit? We don’t argue as we were not looking forward to waiting another hour. The lockmaster puts us in a makeshift spot not an official space along the lock wall. The lockmaster ties our lines to a handrail behind the wall.

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We hold our breath and hope that the lock doors can close behind us. We actually end up with several feet between us and the lock door. For all this effort, all of the boats are only lowered about six inches before the gates open.

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It takes about 15 minutes for all of the boats to unload from the lock. There is an audience on shore watching as all of the boats travel south. No boats are heading north this time of year. It is quite a parade. Upon exiting the lock, we are once again in fresh water. The Great Bridge Bridge, just on the other side of the lock, is still closed. We wait about five minutes for this bridge to open. As the bridge opens, we spot our marina, Atlantic Yacht Basin, just ahead.

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Total Miles Traveled: 12

Monday Oct. 15th: Norfolk/Portsmouth

This morning we took the dogs for an early morning three mile run through the town of Portsmouth. There is a nice walkway along the downtown river banks. We next set out on foot to explore Portsmouth. High Street is the main thoroughfare running through town. There are many nice restaurants along this street. We decide to have breakfast at Brutti’s, a European type bistro which is famous for its French toast and omelets.

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Their specialty is something called “Bagelnuts” which is a soft puff of bagel dough with cream cheese baked inside. I chose the French toast which was two pieces of two inch thick bread with some sort of cream cheese stuffing. On top of this were slivered almonds and powder sugar. Jeff’s omelet over a bagel was equally impressive. We also ordered a dozen Bagelnuts to go. The breakfast was fantastic. Let’s hope the Bagelnuts make it back to the boat.

There is a paddle wheel ferry which shuttles passengers across the Elizabeth River to Norfolk.

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The ferry runs every 30 minutes and cost only $1.00 each way. Norfolk has a nice Naval Maritime Center where the Battleship Wisconsin is permanently berthed on display.

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Unfortunately the museum is closed on Mondays. This will give us an excuse to explore this area again in the spring. Downtown Norfolk has on display over 130 mermaids that are all decorated and designed by local artist and are spread throughout the city.

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We see many of these while walking on the Cannonball Trail which traces over 400 years of Norfolk history.3165

After our walk, we take the ferry back across to Portsmouth for lunch. We decide to eat at the Bier Garden which offers authentic home-cooked German cuisine. Unfortunately, they are closed on Mondays also. It turns out everything seems to be closed on Mondays. We wanted to visit the Naval Shipyard Museum in Portsmouth but it is also closed on Mondays.

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This afternoon, “Waterdog”, a Krogen 44 with Pat and Taylor Cook and their yellow lab Goliath arrive in the slip just in front of us.

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They were also at the Krogen Rendezvous in Solomons and are now heading back to Charleston, SC. They join us for an enjoyable evening at the Commodore Theatre. This theatre is a 1945 art deco-style movie theatre which shows first run movies while serving light dinner fare.

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Several other Krogen owners had told us about the Commodore Theatre and said that we should put this on our list of things to do. Inside the theatre there are dinning tables in place of movie seats. Each table has a black phone from which you place your dinner and drink order.

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While watching the movie you can enjoy a very nice meal. The theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a great experience and a good way to finish the evening.

Sunday Oct. 14th:

We wake up to another spectacular day out on the water. The sun is just peaking up over the horizon. The dogs enjoy one last romp on the beach before pulling anchor.

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Today we are traveling to Portsmouth, where we will stay for two nights before heading to our final destination of Great Bridge. We enter the Mobjack Bay Channel at 8:30 AM. The seas are a little confused and we have a bumpy ride out to the Chesapeake Bay. We make a starboard turn into the bay at 9:30 AM and our ride smoothes out considerably as we now have following seas.

We reach the Norfolk/Portsmouth area around noon. There is a Navy Warship coming out the bay being escorted by the Coast Guard. We overhear the Coast Guard stating that they are deploying two smaller boats. They want to make several boardings of boats coming into Norfolk. We wonder if they are going to choose us for one of the boardings. We just had a vessel safety check in Solomons and passed all inspections. Jeff is actually hoping that they do board us but it looks like they bypassed us this time.

We are now going with the current and our speed picks up to over 10 mph. As we pass Thimble Shoals Lighthouse, we can see the Norfolk Navy Base up ahead. We spot a three masted schooner approaching.

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It turns out to be “Gazella” which is the tall ship that we first saw earlier this year as the tall ships went through Norfolk just a few miles from our current position. We later saw the same ship in Yorktown and then again in Baltimore.

There are 40 plus ships at dock in the Naval Base. It is quite a sight to see all of the aircraft carriers, frigates, and supply vessels in port along with four submarines.

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The harbor is busy and our AIS displays 30 different ships in the area. Our radar also shows many pleasure craft out for a Sunday cruise. At 1:30 PM we enter the Elizabeth River which takes us to downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth.

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Tonight, we are staying at Ocean Marine which is on the Portsmouth side of the Elizabeth River. Norfolk and Portsmouth are separated only by the Elizabeth River.

We call Ocean Marine and are given directions to our slip. We have a great slip looking out onto the ICW Waterway (mile zero starts just before Ocean Marine). We give the boat a good wash down to get rid of all the salt water spray. Just as we finish, I take a step back to inspect our work. Unfortunately, there is no dock behind me and I have not yet learned to walk on water. I quickly sink. As I surface yelling help, Jeff is rushing over as he heard the splash. The floating dock is so high out of the water that I would never be able to get back onto it without help. Lucky for me, he was right there to pull me up. What a bonehead move! At least no one was around to see.3118

We have the floating dock to ourselves tonight. We take advantage of this and set up the stationary bike on shore where I am able to get in an hour workout before dinner.

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We enjoy a nice dinner of crab stuffed shrimp aboard. We are already missing IT and want to spend as much time as possible with her. Tomorrow we will explore Portsmouth.

Total Miles Traveled: 45

Saturday Oct. 13th:

This morning we are making a second attempt at leaving Solomons. Jeff starts the main engine at 7:00 AM and everything seems to be running fine. That is a good sign. Our neighbor, Paul, comes out to see us off. We wave goodbye and ease IT away from the slip.

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Solomons harbor looks like a parade today with all of the boats leaving. Everyone is taking advantage of the nice weather window. The winds have died down and it looks to be a nice day out on the bay. We pull in line and follow several sailboats out the harbor entrance. The sun is just peaking out over the horizon. It shines brightly on Calvert Cliffs as we leave the harbor. This is a fitting goodbye to Solomons as we have hiked the gravel paths there almost daily as part of our Kilimanjaro training.

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There are many fishing boats out today. Saturday’s nice weather has brought everyone out. The seas are calm and it is a much nicer day for traveling than yesterday. We do the hourly engine room check and everything seems fine. At 10:30 AM we pass the entrance channel to the Potomac River. Today we bypass this and continue south. We next reach Smith Point which is marked by the Smith Point Lighthouse at 11:30 AM. This also marks the boarder of Maryland and Virginia. IT is now in Virginia waters where she will stay until next spring.

We reach our first anchorage option, Fishing Bay in Deltaville, VA, at 2:00 PM. Since it is such a nice day out on the water we decide to continue on. We estimate that we can make the East River on Mobjack Bay by 6:00 PM. We anchored there this spring and know there is a place to take the dogs ashore. Daisy and Sebastian have quickly adapted back to the cruising lifestyle after being on shore for the last two months. They both curl up in the pilot house as soon as we are underway and do not move until we get to anchor. Sebastian is hidden under his blanket as the weather has turned too cool for his liking.

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At 5:00 PM we reach the turn for Mobjack Bay. It is still about 20 miles from here to the East River. Just as we round New Point Comfort Lighthouse, we spot two sailboats at anchor on the western shore.

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There also appears to be a nice beach area near where they are anchored. We check the charts to find that there is about 12 feet of water into this anchorage. We decide to try this out for an anchorage as it will save about 1 ½ hours of travel time. We are getting hungry and the dogs are anxious to get off the boat also. We ease our way into this cove with no problems. There are many crab pots and also a fish trap area which must be avoided. We anchor in about 11 feet of water just in front of the other sailboats. This area offers no protection from the wind and would not be a good anchorage in any bad weather. Tonight should be a nice night with little or no wind so we should be O.K. The dogs are in a rush to get ashore.

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The beach is wide and sandy.

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Daisy takes great joy in chasing numerous sea birds while Sebastian busies himself looking for dead smelly things to roll in.

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It is hard to believe that this will be our last night at anchor until next spring. We are already missing the boat.

Total Miles Traveled: 90

Friday Oct. 12th:

Today marks the beginning of the end to our 2007 cruising season. We have been working our way north all summer. Today we are starting our trip south which will end at Great Bridge, Va. where we will leave Idyll Time for the winter. We have reservations to be there next Monday. It is only 125 miles from Solomons to Great Bridge so we will take our time. After being in the Solomon’s area for two months, we almost feel as if we are leaving home. DD dock will always have a special place in our hearts. As we pull away from the dock, I see our next door neighbor, Janice, waving goodbye from the bow of her boat.

We were delayed a couple of days in leaving as we had some warranty work done on the John Deere engine. Kattie, the John Deere mechanic, replaced a turbo hose. We also had her change out the engine coolant and fix a small leak on the generator. We did a sea trial with Kattie aboard to make sure everything was working fine. Afterwards, we added some fuel and did a pump out of our holding tank. IT is ready to go. We took one day out of our schedule to travel to the Annapolis boat show. We are in search of a life raft for next year. We will be cruising to Maine next year and will be doing some open ocean passages also in cold water. Our dinghy has sufficed as our life raft on the ICW but for the open water passages, the Admiral insists on a real life raft. After looking at several brands, we decide on the Winslow brand. We order one at the show to be delivered next March. Our departure was also delayed a day due to high winds. On Thursday, the winds were 30 knots with seas of 4-5 foot in the Bay. IT could certainly handle this but we are in no rush so opted to wait on better weather. This also gave us a chance to have dinner with some other Krogen owners at Stoney’s Pier. The crab cakes were some of the best we have eaten as was the crab soup.

We ease IT out of slip DD 20 at 8:00 AM. It is a bright sunny day. There are still good 3-4 ft. seas out on the bay.

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We are traveling with the wind today so the ride is not too bumpy. Jeff does the hourly engine room check at 9:00 AM and discovers our raw water impeller is overheating. He is going to have to change this out and in order to do so, we have to shut the engine down. We decide to head back into Solomons and change it at the dock. It is just too rough out here today to shut down in these seas. We are only an hour from Solomons. We continue to monitor the situation while traveling back to Solomons. The temperature on the impeller goes from 200 degrees back down to 78 degrees were it should be. We consider heading back out but decide it is better to not take chances and go ahead and change the impeller. We are both disappointed in having to turn around but had rather be cautious. We are back at our dock at 11:00 AM and Jeff is down in the engine room changing the impeller.

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This takes only 15 minutes.

Once Jeff gets the impeller out, we see that the impeller is all chewed up. That was definitely the problem.

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This impeller has not been changed in about 600 hours. The original impeller went bad on us last year while crossing the gulf with 450 hours. From now on, we will start changing out the impellers at 500 hours as part of our preventive maintenance. There are three different impellers on the boat, raw water impeller, generator impeller, and main engine impeller. Each is a different size and we keep two spares for all three.

By the time Jeff returns from the marine store with another spare impeller, it is noon. We could still leave today. Our first anchorage would be Reedville about 45 miles away. We would not get there until six or seven o’clock tonight. The winds are still really strong so we decide to wait and get an early morning start in the morning. We have paid for the slip here at Solomons through the 14th anyway so there is no charge for staying another day. The dogs are happy when we do one last hike at Calvert Cliffs State Parks. We will try to leave the dock again tomorrow.

Total miles traveled: 20

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