Deltaville, VA to Washington, DC

Monday, May 7, 2018:

We were going to move on up the bay somewhere today, but didn’t like the weather forecast and do like staying here. For some reason, we both woke up about 0400, so I took time to catch up on the blog and later, we went to the store to get groceries and did some gift shopping at Nauti-Nell’s.  It was pretty much a lazy day.  We took some time to route plan the next legs of the trip ahead and Jane did laundry.  Just before dinner, Mark came by in his dinghy, and we went for a boat ride around the little bay.  Deltaville is a pleasant place on a peninsula with even more water front and marinas on the north side.  Jane had made a wonderful batch of veggie pasta, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling well and saved mine for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018:

I was feeling fine and refilled the water tanks. We have plotted a course for Ingram Bay Marina which is in Towles Creek.  It was named no doubt, by some of my pre-Revolutionary War era Towles ancestors.  I didn’t get to go up the Rappahannock to boat by Towles Point, so this is some consolation.  I cranked up the engine at 1030 and let it warm up a bit.  Then I shut it down and gave the oil a chance to drain back down to the pan.  I rechecked the oil and as expected, had to add some since to compensate for the effect of the new filter.  At 1045 we left the dock and moseyed over to the lift area so we could get a pump-out.  We had a lot of help on the docks with Dale from The Journey and John and Sheena from Next Act along with Jacqui from the marina.  By 1100 we were all pumped out and easing out toward the crooked channel to get us back into Chesapeake Bay.  The forecast was winds out of the northeast at 10 to 15 knots with waves of 1 to 2 feet.  Shouldn’t be a problem, right?  By 1125 we were in 3 to 4 foot seas.  It was uncomfortable for Jane to move about the boat, but after we traversed into deeper waters by noon the sun was coming out and the waves were calmer.  By 1415 the cruising was downright nice with a smooth ride on a very beautiful day.  We found our way into Towles Creek through the narrow jetties.  This is one very protected harbor!  After 24 ½ miles, we docked at 1435 in the first slip alongside the modest dockhouse of Ingram’s Bay Marina with the assistance of the owner, Billy.  Billy is a friendly guy who gave up his career after college to return to his roots and make a life on the bay.  He bought the marina and runs charters and seems to love his life.  There are some pleasant homes on the creek, but no commercial endeavors save the marina.  It is very quiet.  Queen Jane wanted a dinghy tour of the creek so I got it launched and she packed the small ice chest for refreshments.  On the chart, it looks like a tiger and we enjoyed idling around all the appendages.

When we returned to the boat, we had an early dinner and decided to turn in early so we could get an early start in the morning.  We will be trying to make it up to Washington, DC by Friday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018:

We woke up early and all the engine checks were a-ok so I cranked up at 0618 and proceeded to get things arranged for the day’s travel. At 0628 I removed the lines and backed out of the slip while Jane was below.  I think that surprised her.  Northeast winds of 5 to 10 and waves of one foot were forecast.  Once out in the bay conditions were a little rougher than expected, but by 0900 we passed green marker #3 and were in the 12 mile wide mouth of the Potomac.  It made for a calmer ride but still rolling on what seemed like 2 to 3 foot seas.  By 0945 the sun was out and it was flat and calm in the river.  At 1015 the depth sounder showed 60 feet in mid-channel under the water-ski-glassy surface.  At 1215 we arrived at the red marker #14.  Here, I radioed for instructions from the Dahlgren Range Patrol to avoid becoming a national news item by getting bombed during the Navy live fire exercises.  The Dahlgren Firing Range runs from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, for more than 20 miles downstream.  They’ve been practicing here since World War One.  The Navy positions patrol boats to make sure all vessels receive coordinates for change of course to safely navigate the area.   They were only using the middle Danger Zone and instructed me to continue to red marker 25, then turn to starboard and motor to a white diamond marker, keeping that tight to starboard, and then turn to the yellow “Oscar” buoy about another mile which I should keep to port, from which I could continue to tall fixed red “30” and then “32” to the center of the bridge.  He was rattling this off and I wished I knew shorthand, so I read it back piece by piece to make sure I knew what to do.  He was very patient and assured me that we would see their vessel and they would assist if we strayed from the designated detour route.  When I inquired as to what they were firing, he gave an appropriately ambiguous answer.  To my disappointment, we got to see no action at all.  I was hoping for some excitement; not sinking Sabbatical excitement, but maybe just some target strafing.

Later, we came around Mathias Point I noticed a fire ahead on the left. It was putting up quite a bit of black smoke which I assumed to be fuel related.  I wasn’t sure what the source was but I knew it was big because I could see flames and it was still several miles off.  Nobody was mentioning any emergency on channel 16, so it piqued our curiosity. As we got closer, using the binoculars, Jane could see people on the beach at Chotank Creek Preserve conducting a controlled burn.


We were getting tired after a long day’s run and anchored in Acquia Creek near Widewater State Park at 1720. We had come 89.4 miles; our longest day so far.  Even though we each had a chance to nap while the other piloted, we were still wiped out after the 11 hour run.  Glad to be on anchor in such a lovely harbor, we enjoyed just sitting and talking on the flybridge for sunset before downing some leftovers and hitting the hay.

Thursday, May 10, 2018:

I checked the weather forecast and it showed a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1400 with southwest winds of 10 to 13 and gusts to 22 mph. After checking all the requisite engine points, we pulled anchor at 0845.  By 1000 we passed the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay on the right and Quantico on the left.

Some Army boat that must have a need for speed came by us.  I’ve never seen so many outboard motors on one boat.  I think there were seven 300 hp motors.


It was beautiful cruising as we kept getting up river and passed Mount Vernon to port and Fort Washington to starboard.

The banks got steeper against the narrowing river for a while.  We could easily have made it to the Capitol Yacht Club, but our reservations were for Friday and they had no room, so I picked out an anchorage in front of National Harbor.  Charted depths for this anchorage show depths of 7 to 13 feet, but all we found there was about four feet of water.  I’m not sure why there was such a difference, but our draft is only 3 ½ feet, so we set the hook at 1320.  National Harbor is a pretty fancy development with hotels, restaurants and shops.  They even have a huge Ferris wheel out on the waterfront.  We agreed that some shopping and dining was in order, so I got the dinghy ready, changed clothes and in we went.  The folks at National Harbor are very proud of their dockage and we found out that it would be $15 for up to four hours to tie up the little dinghy.  Ouch!  On Fridays through Sundays they charge $20.  Lucky for us it’s Thursday.  We perused a few shops and asked one friendly clerk about where we could buy some casual things like Columbia sportswear.  She directed us to walk to the outlet stores. So off we went down the indicated path and through the tunnel.

Forty minutes later it finally came into view.  It was a hot and muggy day and we were ready for some air conditioning.  We found the Chico’s and Columbia store with some good deals.  Jane bought a needed rain jacket.  When we came out it had rained some and we Ubered back to the marina.  We had a superb dinner at Thai Pavilion before returning to the boat before sunset. We were treated to a fabulous rainbow.

Earlier in the day, we received some good news from our son Scott in Nashville that he is in a relationship with a young lady that we adore. So that was cause for celebrating with the Rombauer Chardonnay on the fly bridge for sunset.  I got out my guitar to serenade my sweetie and we had a great time enjoying the evening.  I checked the log and noted that we have now done 1500 miles of the Loop.

Friday, May 11, 2018:

We were up at 0730 but lollygagged around with a leisurely breakfast of salsa grits and reading the hometown paper on line. It is only 8.3 miles to the Capitol Yacht Club and we can’t check in until 1100, so there’s no real rush.  Good thing.  I hate to rush.  It was a nice day with an expected high in the low 80’s and northwest winds of 8 mph.

After checking him over, I woke Big Red from his slumber and the able diesel jumped to life. Right away, I heard something that definitely did not sound right.  I was just reaching for the kill switch when I hit me that what I was hearing was not coming from our engine room.  It was a sound that brought me quickly back to DaNang.  Coming up the river making time at low altitude were four choppers.  I’ve no way of knowing, but wondered if it might be the President.  We waved anyway.


We hoisted the anchor at 1115. The chain and anchor were pretty gummed up with mud so I pulled out the trusty hose from the stern, hooked up the high pressure gun and squirted it all off as I reeled it in.  It left some mess on the deck, but I knew I’d be scrubbing that soon enough.  Jane navigated us out of the tricky anchorage and into the Potomac.  Once we entered the Washington Channel, Jane called the Capitol City Yacht Club on the radio for docking instructions.  I was paying close attention to what they were saying and did not see the “NO WAKE, IDLE SPEED ONLY” sign.  Sure enough I got the blue lights from the police patrol boat, but he was very kind and just pointed out my error.


By 1230 we were lashed to the T head of B dock with thanks to the assistance of David the dockhand and fellow Loopers, Jim and Allie Cantonis of Meraki.  This is one very nice facility. The club has a long history, but this brand new clubhouse and all new docks just opened in October.  Transients here are welcomed as temporary members and are invited to use the bar and grill.  The club is located in the recently redeveloped Southwest Wharf area and there are bunches of restaurants here along with all necessary shopping.  Walking to the Mall and museums is easy and there is even a free shuttle bus that goes by the Mall and to the Metro stop.  I cleaned up the boat and myself and then we set off walking.  We spent some time in the Hirshhorn Art Museum and then strolled over to the Old Ebbitt’s Grill.  It is the oldest saloon or restaurant in town.  It was very packed, but we lucked out and got seated right away.  The food was fresh and the service very attentive.

We walked past the Washington Monument on the way back and stopped in the upstairs bar at the yacht club and found the members in the CYC bar very friendly.  This was their first day with the kitchen open and they were proud to be able to serve excellent food to the members.

Saturday, May 12, 2018:

We checked out the nearby farmer’s market in the morning and picked up a few things. Then we got the bikes out and rode over to the Georgetown Garden Tour.  We toured the gardens of seven very old homes including the former home of President and Jacqueline Kennedy where they lived before he got the nomination.  All the gardens were private and beautifully maintained.

We were exhausted by the time we got back but glad to have gotten some exercise. The ride totaled about 10 miles to Georgetown plus around all the neighborhoods and back. We showered in the clubhouse and dressed for the evening.   We were headed for a performance of the Capitol Steps at the Reagan Center and opted to eat after the show.  The Capitol Steps show is a hilarious musical show that casts barbs at our politicians and changes frequently with the abundant material Washington provides.  Once we got back to the Wharf District we tried to eat at Kith-Kim but got no service.  We left and went to Mi Vida Mexican Restaurant.  It was a great choice for dinner with a sweet attentive waitress.  It was a fun but tiring day.

Sunday, May 13, 2018:

It was cloudy and dreary and a little rainy. We made it over to Riverside Baptist Church.  They are meeting in Thomas Jefferson Junior High School auditorium.  It reminded both of us of our own elementary school, J.J. Finley.  Riverside is under construction with a new building on the corner across from the Wharf.  They were very friendly and have a completely mixed-race congregation and a wholly inclusive attitude.  Afterwards we walked to the Smithsonian complex and visited the Air and Space Museum, had lunch at the Pavilion, visited the National Archives and generally roamed around.  We noted bunches and bunches of police in full dress uniforms.  It is Police Week here and they were about to march to honor their fallen brethren.


Jane made an awesome batch of Avocado Basil pasta for dinner and we planned what all else we wanted to see while here.

Monday, May 14, 2018:

David came by and pumped out our holding tank. Since the equipment is new, it does a really great job.  We always appreciate a good pump out.  Jane defrosted the fridge and ended up snapping the fragile plastic hinge pin again.  I think we’ll just deal with it as is.  We set out on the free shuttle for the metro station at L’Enfant Plaza and figured out what trains to take to get out to Bethesda so we could visit our friends, Linda and Larry Awbrey, their daughters, and meet the grandkids.  The youngest is only five days old.  They met us at the station and we picked up some lunch at a nice market before going over to the house.  It was a nice visit, but too short and Blake chauffeured Larry and Ashley to the airport so we rode along to catch the metro from there.  Once back at the boat, we got out the grocery cart and headed over to the Safeway (just several blocks walking) to stock up.  Once we got back to the boat again, we saw that a bad storm was rolling in so we hunkered down to ride it out.  It rained most of the night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It was a pretty day, but warm. No, not warm.  It was hot. It was muggy.  It was very hot.  But we were riding our bikes to visit the sights.  We went to The Jefferson Memorial, The FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Viet Nam War Memorial, and then we rode over the river to Arlington National Cemetery.  Jane was getting worn out and asked about doing the tram tour, but I didn’t think we wanted to be bothered with that.  Oh, boy!  Was I ever wrong!  We hiked up the hills to the Kennedy grave sites and then over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  She was getting weaker by the step.  I wondered and asked if I needed to put her in some shade and go get the EMT’s.  It was around 95 and she was feeling sick.  We did finally make it to witness a laying of the wreath ceremony and the changing of the guard at the Tomb.  It was solemn as it should be.  We made it back to the bikes at the ANC reception center and I offered to get us an Uber that could just take us and the bikes back to the marina.  The offer was turned down, but Mama’s not happy having been drug all over DC.  We finally made it back to the Wharf after a wrong turn and went to a disappointing Chinese Restaurant (Jenny’s) with sticky floors.  Midafternoon, we returned to the boat hot and totally beat.  We showered and got naps.  Another storm is coming in and when it rolls through, I’m going to treat Jane to a fine dinner and never put her through a day like this one again if I want to keep her on this boat.

Sunset over the Jefferson Memorial just before the storm.


Belhaven, NC to Deltaville, VA


Tuesday, April 24, 2018:

It was a rainy rainy day. Rainy, rainy, rainy.  Dreary, dreary dreary.  Lazy, lazy lazy.  We just stayed on the boat tied to the dock at Beaufort Town Docks.  We read, did devotionals, posted the latest blog, cleaned and reorganized some stuff.  Jane made some hearty veggie soup which hit the spot on this chilly damp day.  Damp day.  It got really windy too.  You know, where it hoots.  We were docked on the east side of the small westward canal which was the best spot.  There really are no tides here to speak of, but the wind brought in much higher water. In spite of the Belhaven breakwater, the unwelcome rollers were coming into our little canal and breaking over the sea wall on the other side.  Even though Belhaven is protected by the breakwater, I’m sure I could have surfed on the breakers in the basin.  That is, if I could surf.  Meanwhile, we could see another Trawler in the other canal thrashing about.  It was the Liquid Therapy.  I was glad we were where we were, but wondered if I should get out the foul weather gear and go help them.  I kept watch, but there didn’t seem to be any crisis that warranted action on my part.  In the afternoon, in between the squalls, we ventured out half a block to the local Ace Hardware for some plumbing parts to enhance the shower in the aft head.  Enhancement equals stand up, not squatting or sitting.  We found the right combulation of needed fixtures and assorted hardware.  (This is no ordinary Ace Hardware mind you, it has gifts items, a wine section, cutesy towels, a ladies clothing section, a full Carharrt section, and even antique furniture.  It is called Riddick and Windley Ace Hardware. We spent at least an hour in there.)  My plumbing installation was a success and found pleasing to the admiral.  Later, well cleansed, we indulged in some TV before bed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018:

We left the dock at 0845. We didn’t need Greg to help us, but he was there and ready if wanted.  Belhaven deserves another stay.  Perhaps a longer duration next time.  My thoughts are that this is a sleeper of a town and ripe to blossom.  Jane loosened us from the starboard stern line and moved forward to the breast and then the bow.  We were blown free into the narrow fairway.  Working patiently, I brought her around hard to starboard with a series of forward, neutral, reverse, neutral, forward, neutral, reverse, neutral, forward, etc. pivoting in place.  There were some mosquitos out, but as we got out in the Belhaven Basin, the Purple Martins flitted all about, dipping and diving, swooping them up.  When we putted out past the breakwater, into the Pungo, the rising sun shimmered off the rippled brown water casting millions of sparkling diamonds that the Martins seemed to pluck from the surface.

The forecast shows scattered showers mainly in the afternoon with south winds of 9 to 11. I know this because I have checked last night, late last night, and again this morning.  I may be slow, but I’m not averse to learning from my mistakes.  The Pongo River is wide at this point, but we found the cruising is comfortable.  At 0930:  Mile 130, Nine Lives, passed us.  They have a fast catamaran, and are flying the Looper burgee.  At 0940 we get passed by Hullabaloo, a Mainship 40 from Virginia.  By 1022 we were in the Pungo River – Alligator River canal and passed under the Wilkerson Bridge.


Other than a few ospreys, we didn’t see any wildlife, but the huge duck blinds were neat to see.


All was smooth and quiet until the fighter jets zoomed overhead.  We enjoyed watching them train and they kept coming by at regular intervals.

I noticed that trailing us some ways back was a shrimp boat.  The canal channel is not wide and the areas close to the banks are prone to have stumps and fallen trees, so I keep watching to see if the shrimper is going to need to pass.  He seemed to be running just slightly faster than us and finally at 1258, just after we exited the 22 miles of the canal and get into the Alligator River, the shrimp boat, Four Girls, from Bayou La Batre, Alabama comes around our starboard side.  At this point a distinctly Cajun accent comes over the VHF radio with only “Go Gators!” which gives us a grin.

Shortly the river turns north and becomes quite a bit wider. There is only a slight chop and after another three hours we arrived at the Alligator River Swing Bridge.  It only has a 14’ clearance and half the span is receiving some pretty hefty repair work. Four Girls and Some Day are waiting for the opening as the tender is waiting for us and a sailboat to catch up.  A storm is brewing to the west and as we pass through and turn west for the Alligator River Marina we hear the thunder and we’re just hoping that we don’t have to tie up with lightning and driving rain.  We make it just in time at 1545 all snug bow in at slip number 12 on the north side of their basin.  We let the storm pass before trekking over to check in.

The marina is not glamorous by any means.  It is run out of a convenience store/gas station.  There is a restaurant in the store, but it appears very basic.  The run today was 55.1 miles and it was nice to relax with Brooke and Susan from Liquid Therapy for happy hour on our boat.

Thursday, April 26, 2018:

By 0845 we exited out of the slip into glassy conditions on the Alligator River.


By 0930 we had passed the green marker number 3 and were in the Albemarle Sound.  It is too vast to see the entrance to the Pasquotank River 14 miles away, but the water is only a slight ripple.  Our only concern is dodging the numerous crab pots.  By 1130 we enter the Pasquotank with a slight chop and at 1230 we passed the Coast Guard Air Station in glassy smooth water.  A number of planes of different types are practicing touch and goes for our entertainment.


At 1310 we docked at Mariner’s Wharf in Elizabeth City.  There is no shore power, water, or pump out available and no dock hands, but it’s free.  Docking was tricky, but without much wind and Jane’s cowgirl abilities, wrangling the piles for stern and spring lines, we set the bow just off the sea wall adjacent to the tiny finger pier.


We had to climb on and off to visit the quaint town.  We had lunch at Flour Girls and walked about a bit.  We came across a genealogy library so I had to go in since so many of my ancestors lived in this area.  I only had about 30 minutes before they were closing, but I was able to get a sense of what resources they had and kept their contact info for later.  When we got back to the boat the wind had picked up but our lines were set well.  Two other boats were trying to come in and I was glad to be there to help Dale and Myrna get The Journey tied up and then help the sailor aboard Xtasea with his bow lines.  Jane and I ate well that night at The Cypress Creek Grill and spent some time talking with the owner who is retired from the Coast Guard and his son is the chef.

Friday, April 27, 2018:

Up early to meet the Elizabeth City bridge opening schedule at 0730. The Journey and Xtasea were with us.

The cruise winding up the Pasquotank was beautiful.  The glassy water at times dotted only by a few raindrops.  It is very untouched and reminds me of the Suwannee and the Santa Fe as we moved upstream.  By 0915 we were into Turners Cut which takes us to the south lock of the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.


We arrived an hour early and had to tread water waiting for the 1100 lock-through.

By 1140 we were through the South Mills Lock and into the Great Dismal Swamp Canal which joins the Pasquotank to the Elizabeth River.  The swamp is home to a large population of black bears, but we didn’t see any; just some snakes, geese and turtles.


It also has a very interesting history, with beginnings in the 1700’s.  George Washington was an early investor.  At 1222 the pontoon bridge opened so we could pass, but we opted not to stop at the welcome center deciding to head on to Norfolk.

At 1248 we passed into Virginia.  We arrived at the Deep Creek Bridge 40 minutes before the 1530 opening.  Once we got through though the small bascule bridge we were then going right on into the exit lock where we met lockmaster Robert Peek.  Robert has been on the job for many years and he loves to regale the boaters in his lock with his abundant knowledge of the history of the area.  He also continued to entertain us with a tune on his conch shell.  He also brought me to the exit gate to give instructions for avoiding the shoals in the creek.


We finally escaped the lock at 1620 heading into Deep Creek for Norfolk.  Boating into Norfolk with all the large ships and industry was somewhat intimidating.  We had some confusion with the Norfolk and Southern Railroad Bridge, but it was remotely opened for us.

As we were approaching our destination at the Waterside Marina, there was a cruise ship approaching from the other direction.  I felt sure I had plenty of space and time to proceed without issue, but a Coast Guard patrol boat (complete with a gunner manning the 50 caliber machine gun on the bow) came up with lights flashing and got right next to us.  Once they found out where we were going, it was ok for us to proceed.  I guess they just wanted to make sure we weren’t terrorists about to attack the cruise boat.


We have become accustom to asking each marina for an easy slip to get into since we are running a single screw boat with no thrusters.  At Waterside though, I guess they thought they would test my docking skills.  It was three turns with the last in a narrow fairway, but I eased the bow into our assigned slip like a pro and Ethan helped us get tied up.  There were already a number of Loopers in the marina, but it was far from full.  He could have given us any one of much easier slips, but I didn’t bring it up.  We joined Alan and Sherry aboard Sea Jamm for docktails along with Roger and Lorrie from Reality. Afterward, we walked up to Hell’s Kitchen for a great dinner.  An amazing thing happened there.  Neither one of us had our wallets so, no credit cards and no cash.  Most restaurants expect you to pay for what you eat and this one was no different.  Amazingly, Jane has our Visa memorized and they actually trusted us and ran it through.  I guess two grandparents that order vegan food and are the only ones in the entire restaurant without tattoos looked pretty safe.  We were grateful, rather I was grateful since I would have been the one to run back to the boat for the credit card.

Saturday, April 28 through Thursday, May 3, 2018:

We enjoyed being in Norfolk for the American Great Loop Cruiser’s Association Spring Rendezvous. We were treated to a grand NATO parade, went to many restaurants with friends, had many sessions on cruising the Loop that were full of great information, went to The Wave church, helped other Looper friends get docked in the wind, hosted many Loopers-in-planning on our boat, and enjoyed a visit to the MacArthur Memorial.  I also had an old Viet Nam buddy, Bob Morrison, come over to the boat to visit.  Bob not only stayed in the Navy and made a career of it, but he also transitioned to officer.  We had a good time reliving the war.


All in all, Norfolk was fun, the marina was standing room only and the conference was hugely informative, but it’s time to move on.  I was not impressed with Waterside Marina.  They had no laundry, the restrooms were too far away and their pump out system was not fully operable.  Jane the laundry queen was not to be denied and was able to get privileges at the Sheraton next door to use their tiny laundry area for a few loads.

Friday, May 4, 2018:

I got up early and in maintenance checks discovered that we had sucked up a bunch of weeds into the main engine strainer from the Dismal Swamp lock. I got that cleaned out and once the larger boat to our stern was out of the way, made our plan to get off the dock.  I had Lee from Breeze get on his deck in case he needed to fend me off.  It was tight quarters and I didn’t want to bump any other boats.  I eased out of the slip just fine, but once turned in the small fairway the wind was quickly pushing towards Antonia.  Mark came out on deck and was concerned, but I was able to keep Sabbatical away using reverse and enough throttle to overcome the wind’s effect.  I brought her around to starboard and then realized that Eddy had moved Spiritus onto the T head to allow Miss Liberty to escape.  He was yelling for me to hold up.  But now I had the wind on my beam and uncomfortably close to Antonia.   I was able to maneuver back to where I was clear of the others.  There were so many boats moving it was like one of those little puzzles where you have to move the tiles around to get them in the right order.  I saw Linda on the stern of Spiritus waving her arms like directing an orchestra.  We all cooperated and I remained at idle in the main fairway keeping away from the others until it was my turn to get out of the basin.  I got complements and cheers on my boat handling ability.  Norfolk is home to the world’s largest Navy base and once out in the Elizabeth River we had lots and lots of big Navy and cargo ships to see.

It was a sunny day with 10 knot winds out of the southwest. By 0955 we were in the Chesapeake Bay.  We were moving north up the west shore of the bay and it started getting a little rough with seas of 2 to 3 feet.  I had Jane wear her PFD while moving about.  We were attacked by an invasion of flies.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  We are well off from the land and here come these pesky biting flies – hundreds and hundreds of them.  Jane got out one of the flyswatters and went about trying to wipe out the species.  She hardly made a dent and they kept on coming.

After we got through the rough area we had turned to the west moving into the Piankatank River when I spotted a Coast Guard patrol boat headed south. The patrol boat changed course and started in our direction.  They were quickly upon us with the blue lights flashing so I put it in neutral and stepped to the back of the fly bridge to ask what I had done wrong.  Were we over the limit on fly kills?  They asked when was the last time we had been boarded by the Coast Guard to which we said never, so they said prepare to be boarded.  At 1408 two of their crew stepped onto the Sabbatical.  We were in full compliance so it was no more than a delay of 20 minutes or so.  They were very respectful and after the preliminaries, asked me to continue toward my destination.  Once they were done with the paperwork, I held my course and speed and the patrol boat came along side and they just stepped over while we were underway.


At 1500 we eased into a slip at the Deltaville Boatyard with brand new floating docks.  This place has a pool and the restrooms are newly remodeled.  After happy hour on the deck hosted by Curtis Stokes & Associates, we walked to Taylor’s Restaurant with the Snyders.  The food was mediocre, but the company was great.

Saturday, May 5, 2018:

We had been enticed to come here for the weekend for a seminar series jointly hosted by Curtis Stokes and Deltaville Boatyard, but I’m glad we now know about this spot. After the rendezvous in Norfolk, we were tired of sitting in classes, but you can’t get too much education.  We learned a lot about cruising on the Chesapeake Bay.  The boatyard owner, Keith Ruse was also giving complimentary engine room inspections.  I’m very glad I got this, because he found that one of my alternators was loose and out of alignment.  A nut had wriggled its way off of the bolt and even though it was still working, it was a matter of time before this became an issue that could have put us in a bad way on the water.  Their mechanics were too busy to make the repair, but I figured it was within my talents.  Being Cinco de Mayo, they had a Mexican Dinner catered into the marina for us along with live entertainment.  We watched the Kentucky Derby in the lounge and we should have bet, because the horse I picked won.

Sunday, May 6, 2018:

In the morning, Keith conducted a couple of classes on troubleshooting HVAC and diesel engines in the shop. He had a very informative presentation enhanced by fully operational units with which to demonstrate.

In the afternoon, I went to work removing the out-of-line alternator and I quickly discovered that one shouldn’t touch the wrench to the block while removing the hot lead. It made quite a spark and I dropped the wrench in the bilge.  After retrieving the wrench, I removed the hot leads from the battery and turned off the charger before proceeding. The front bolt was fully seized with its nut.  During the process of trying to loosen it, the bolt broke, so now I need some hardware.  Keith said the NAPA store was closed but West Marine would be open.  Jane had arranged for use of the car for grocery shopping, so I had her take the old hardware to match and a list of what I wanted.  I worked on cleaning up the alternator from the caked-on belt dust.  It was pretty black.  She couldn’t get any assistance in the West Marine store, but finally was able to locate everything but the washers.  However, it used up all the time she was allowed for the car so the groceries had to wait.  She was none too happy about her experience at West Marine.   The good news is that I got it put back together cranked it up and checked the operation and it is working fine.  Since I was already a dirty stinky mess and had all the floor panels out, I went ahead and changed the oil too.  I put the floor all back in place and got the maintenance log out to make the entries about the work I had done.  That’s when it hit me.  I had forgotten to change the oil filter.  I knew it would be full of the old oil and now that the new oil is in the engine, I didn’t want to put a hole in the filter and have it drain into the crankcase.  I thought a minute about just leaving it and letting the old oil in the filter mix with the fresh oil I had just put in.  I knew getting it off would result in a mess, but I was just going to go ahead and try.  I put a bunch of old newspaper around the filter and twisted it off.  Surprisingly, not much came out until I started to turn it upside down, but the newspaper did its job and I got the new filter installed and cleaned up the little that did spill.  I won’t forget that step again.  Afterward, the shower was put to good use and I relaxed while Jane fixed dinner for the two of us.