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From Vero Beach to Lewes on the Blue Hen


The marina at Harbortown, Hilton Head, SC
Dear Family and Friends,

A number of folks have asked me to keep them posted on our trip up the Intra Coastal Waterway. Here's my first crack at it, as we relax alongside tonight at St Augustine Municipal Marina after 12 hours underway and 136 miles under our belt. The saga began about a week ago when Jerri and I flew back from Lewes to Vero Beach to prepare the boat for the trip. We had a wonderful week in Vero, we socialized every night we were there, ending with a delightful dinner with Dot and Pete Hoffman at the Vero Beach Yacht Club. The boat had been loaded and was all ready to go, we closed up the house, put the car to bed, then went to the Club where we joined other Past Commodores for the monthly Blue Gavel reception and dinner. We spent the night on the boat, leaving Saturday morning to join the VBYC Cruise to Eau Gallie Yacht Club near Melbourne. A wonderful time was had by the 8 boats and 26 or so members and guests.Upon returning to the boat, we discovered a very life like rubber mouse. Needless to say, we have made him the ship's mascot and named him "Robert the Bruce" in honor of a good friend of Scots ancestry who we are led to believe may have had something to do with his appearance.

This morning saw us up bright and early, underway from Eau Gallie at 0520 and heading up the Indian River. We had origionally determined to run "economical speed" at 7.5 knots We soon decided the best way to pick up a little time was to speed up, our new destination, St Augustine ,where we could get a pretty good deal on fuel and spend a quiet night alongside with the umbilical plugged in and the A/C running. The days have been 90+, the evenings not much cooler.

Today's run took us up to the head of the Indian River Lagoon, due east through the Haulover Canal just north of the NASA complex at Cape Canaveral, and north into the Mosquito Lagoon. Mosquito Lagoon is well named, on previous trips we were plagued with clouds of the little buggers. Today, it was green head flies. We were surprised when a "Boat Pix" helicopter flew over and made several passes taking pictures. I'm sure we will find a request in our mailbox to purchase same when we arrive home. Passing through New Smyrna Beach and Ponce deLeon Inlet, there were hoards of "Sunday sailors", and a "Fast Food Barge" where people went alongside to purchase hot dogs, etc. A little later on, we passed an "Ice Cream Barge" also doing a brisk business.

Tomorrow we will revert to our usual 7.5 knots and will probably anchor somewhere near Jekyll Island, Georgia. If all goes well, we expect be in Charleston by Thursday.


Blue Hen alongside dock at Jekyll Island, GA with Jerri waiting to go out to dinner.
A lot of water past the waterline since we left St Augustine early Monday morning. First of all, we heard from several friends commenting on our new ship's mascot, and we have decided that it is more appropriate to call our little mouse, Rodent the Bruce. After all, Robert the Bruce was a fierce Scots warrior, and our little friend is, well, quiet as a mouse.

We left St Augustine early Monday morning, passing under the newly rebuilt Bridge of Lions and across St Augustine Inlet. Current is strongly against us as we head up Tolomato River, we speed up to 14 knots. Through lots of salt marshes and green head flies. The temperature is at 90 degrees with very little wind. Crossing the St Johns River, below Jacksonville, we come almost head to head with an inbound, very large container ship, MOL Endeavour. Needless to say, the law of gross tonnage (not to mention Rule 9) prevails, and we pass under her stern. Passing through Fernandine Beach, we see a Gearbulk ship, Wren Arrow, loading rolls of paper. In the Port of Philadelphia, we import paper, go figure. At least our Cumberland Sound pilot friend, Bill Kavanaugh seems to have a little business. We pass Kings Bay Naval Station, no nuclear subs in sight today. A long push across St Andrews Sound, the first of about six open sounds we cross in Georgia. Much of the waterway in Georgia is like sailing to windward, you tack back and forth slowly approaching your destination. We stop at Jekyll Island Marina for the night, we discovered that our house battery bank will not hold a charge and would probably not carry our freezer and refrigerator load through a night at anchor. Besides, it is a good opportunity to plug in and enjoy the AC. Early Tuesday morning takes us through Brunswick, Ga, St Simons Sound, and north on the winding waterway. Another hot day, bright sun and little air. We have seen very few cruising boats on our trip, most of the time we have had the waterway and marinas all to ourselves. We were overtaken by a beautiful 63 foot Trumphy motor yacht, America of Sag Harbor, NY. Tuesday evening finds us at Harbortown Marina in Hilton Head. All hands ashore for a great fish dinner at the Crazy Crab.

Wednesday, we enjoy a leisurely breakfast alongside, we have not so far to go today. Up Calabogue Sound, through Skull Creek and several large marinas including one that is accesable only through a lock. Port Royal Sound is quiet, we pass Bay Point where we spent many happy days with Sherrill and Anne Poulnot at their cabin on St Philips Island. We have a fair current up the Beaufort River through the beautiful town of Beaufort and out into the wide Coosaw River. We tie up at Dataw Marina where we are meet by our friend Jim Gourd and Conrad, the dockmaster, with two new large batteries for our ailing power system. We enjoy cocktails at Jim and Babs' beautiful home on Dataw Island, SC, and a delightful dinner the Dataw Island Club. Yesterday and today finds us in Charleston, we arrived early afternoon and filled our diesel tanks at the Pilot Office. We are docked at the Carolina Yacht Club and staying ashore with Anne Poulnot. A full day doing errands and exploring Charleston, including a "Happy Birthday Call" to sister Nancy, the captain has lunch with several pilot friends while the girls check out the shops in town. Dinner tonight at the Yacht Club, we'll stay aboard in anticipation of an early start up the waterway.


The lock at Great Bridge, VA just below Norfolk.
A relaxing Sunday afternoon alongside at Seapath YC & Marina in Wrightsville Beach, NC. We have been starting at 0500 and running long days, figured we owed ourselves a little down time. The blistering sun has gone behind some clouds, a few light rain squalls now and then, nice breeze coming in from Masonboro Inlet, temperature about 82. It has been boiling hot every day since we left Florida, very few clouds, no rain, the barometer has not moved off 30" for a week. We had a nice swim off the boat in the beautiful, green seawater coming in the Inlet. This is certainly a pleasant break. In spite of the many restaurants and other attractions here, the chief steward has declared that she is preparing a steak, salad, and baked potato dinner, we shall dine on board.

We left Charleston yesterday morning before dawn, met Carnival Fantasy coming into the cruise terminal with a load of passengers. It seems the locals have forced the Port Authority to limit cruise ship arrivals to 100 per year. I guess that's sort of like being in business and telling your customers you will only serve a limited number. One woman was quoted as saying, "they bring in an undesirable class of people". Who would have thought ....

Our run up the waterway took us past low, mostly uninhabited islands, with sandy beaches and oyster bars (not the kind that also serve beer). Near McClellenville we meet Carlton Poulnot, Sherrill's cousin, coming south in a large sloop on a delivery trip to Florida. Shortly afterwards, we meet the Kady Krogen 41, Crusero, formerly owned by our friends Clacky and Sandy King of Oxford, Md. Small world. We enter Winyah Bay at Georgetown, SC and start up the beautiful Waccamaw River. This is a pleasant part of the trip through rice and indigo plantations and heavily forested, winding waterways ending at the southern end of Myrtle Beach. At about the narrowest part of the waterway, we meet the tug Gale pushing a 100K barrel oil barge. He takes up most of the channel, from bank to bank, we squeeze past about 8 feet off his side. We spend a quiet night alongside at Barefoot Marina in Myrtle Beach. When we first started sailing the ICW, the stretch through Myrtle beach was primative and desolate. In fact, it was hard to tell where you were, with few landmarks hour after hour. Today is is wall to wall development with houses, condos, and marinas. One of the many golf courses the place is noted for uses a gondola suspended from wires across the waterway to get golfers to the other side.

This morningwe left the dock at 0520 and departed North Myrtle Beach through the last draw bridge we will have to open. With only 11 feet air draft and our antennas down, we are not usually bothered with the nuisance of raising bridges, many of them nowdays are on restricted hours. We cross Little River Inlet near the little town of Calabash, self proclaimed "seafood capital of the world". Shortly afterward, we cross the North Carolina line and pass through quaint Eastern Carolina towns with names like Shallotte and Lockwoods Folly. The dialect they speak out here would make a southern Delawarean envious. Lots of shrimp boats tied up at the docks, shrimp is scarce this year and the fishery season has not as yet been opened. The last remaining pontoon highway bridge at Sunset Beach has finally been replaced, and we breeze right under the new high level bridge. We leave the waterway at Southport, NC, and run north up the Cape Fear River. This is a wide and open stretch with strong currents, fortunately for us, today, it is very smooth and calm. We reenter the ICW at Snow's Cut near Carolina Beach, and run up Myrtle Grove Sound and Masonboro Sound toward Wrightsville Beach. We previously mentioned the Hot Dog Barge and the Ice Cream Barge we saw in Florids, just south of Wrightsville we pass a Bait Barge. Live bait and cold beer, it doesn't get any better than this. With all the boats out on the water today, they are doing a brisk business.


Jerri is tending the forward lines as we are raised about four feet from the water level in Albemarle Sound to the tide level of Norfolk harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
Only two days between reports, but oh boy, have we covered the miles. In spite of our original voyage plan that, frankly, I thought was a bit ambitious, we have moved ahead at least a day. The weather forecast predicts increasing easterly and southerly winds off the Delmarva Coast toward the end of the week, we thought it prudent to run at higher speed and increase our options. We are further encouraged by the surprising fuel economy figures we are seeing. Prior to leaving Vero Beach, at the advice of a friend and independent mechanic who services truck fleets, I replaced the engine lubricating oil with a synthetic lubricant and have been using a cetane additive in the fuel oil. We have been running faster, at about 13 knots, and our consumption is less than 5 gallons per hour, compared to about 7.5 gal/hr previously..

We were away from Wrightsville Beach at 0520 yesterday, ran fast most of the day reaching Oriental, NC about 1700. Oriental is a nice little southern town that has become quite the sailing capital of the Carolinas. We fondly call it Annapolis south. It is also near Camp Seafarer where Steph spent several summers when she was a little girl. Along the way we passed a little sand bar with a beach umbrella and an aritficial palm tree, a little local color. We also passed the beautiful Trumphy motor yacht America alongside at a marina in Gale Creek, north of Morehead City. We have been playing leap frog with America ever since we first saw her near Melbourne, Fl. There was a 60K ton product tanker discharging gasoline and fuel in Morehead City, otherwise the docks were empty We ran into a light rain squall, the first rain we have seen on the whole trip. We tied up at Oriental Marina, shortly afterwards the rain came down in torrents, the locals were dancing in the streets rejoycing in the first rain in two months. The captain was at the marina office when the downpour began, he was forced to bide his time at the marina bar waiting for the rain to pass. We enjoyed a delightful seafood dinner at the little restaurant at the marina, I had some of the best grits, shrimp, and sausage I've ever eaten. A real Carolina dish.

This morning, we departed Oriental and ran up the Neuse River. This river never fails to disappoint, in spite of light winds, we were plowing into head seas and throwing spray all over the place. On the brighter side, we seemed to hit the tide just right, most places we had a strong current with us that added a few miles to our daily total. Through the land cut past Hobucken where we met the tug Pamlico pushing a large phosphate barge. Out into the Pamlico River, past Belhaven, famous for River Forest Marina and their seafood buffet, and into the 22 mile long Alligator/ Pungo Canal. This is a long land cut through pine forests and agricultural fields that connects the Pungp River with the Aligator River and Albemarle Sound. The Albemarle Sound can be a treacherous stretch of water, today is it relatively flat and we cross comfortably. We enter the North River, a winding channel leading to the town of Coinjock, NC, 50 miles south of Norfolk, Va. Tonight we are alongside at Coinjock Marina where we enjoyed a delicious dinner at their restaurant famous for the 32 oz steak known far and wide by waterway travellers. We resisted the temptation to indulge, settling for some good fried shrimp. Temperature is70, no AC necessary tonight!

It looks now like we may start up the Chesapeake Bay tomorrow afternoon, if all goes well, expecting to arrive in Lewes on Friday or Saturday.


Blue Hen at the dock in front of our home in Lewes, Delaware.
Greetings from Chesapeake City, Maryland, the western end of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal where we finally rang up "Finished With Engines" after a long, 12 1/2 hour day and 158 nautical miles up the Chesapeake Bay. Blue Hen of Lewes is back in home waters, just two miles from the Delaware state line, and on waters where the captain practiced his profession for over 43 years. Tomorrow will be a familiar run of 64 miles down Delaware Bay to Cape Henlopen and home port in Lewes, Delaware

Yesterday morning, Tuesday, we departed Coinjock, NC for a 30 mile run up Currituck Sound in Virginia, then into the the narrow and winding North Landing River whose only distinguishing features are two very low, swing highway bridges, about six or seven feet above the water. Of course, they are on restricted hours so we adjusted our speed to accomodate the opening schedule. A few miles past, we came upon the Great Bridge lift bridge and lock. We were delayed awhile entering the lock while a very large tug and tow cleared. We locked down into the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and the busy port of Norfolk. While we can usually skin under most of the highway bridges, the railroad bridges are low over the water and several of them were closed, resulting in over an hour delay getting through. Coal is a principal export in Hampton Roads, it arrives from the mines in 200 to 300 car trains whose slow progress across the bridges seems to take forever. We passed buoy "36", the official mile zero of the Intra Coastal Waterway The ICW is marked in statute miles beginning at Norfolk, Charleston is 475 and Vero Beach is 951. In spite of all the delays, we rounded Old Point Comfort at noon and headed up the Chesapeake Bay. We decided to quit at the Rappahannock River, running into Fishing Bay for a quite nights anchorage. Fishing Bay Yacht Club has a very active Mobjack fleet and the place brought back many fond memories of racing there in the National Competitions.

An early start had us out and headed up the Chesapeake in a red dawn and building southerly winds. The wind got up to over 20 knots and made some pretty big rollers. We rocked and rolled along, the auto pilot would not handle the following sea and we resorted to many hours hand steering, a pretty good workout. The familiar places went by, Patuxtent River, Cove Point (a beautiful little white lighthouse) the Choptank River, Tilghman Island, Kent Island, Annapolis, and the Bay Bridge. The seas moderated somewhat above the bridge, we entered the Elk River at the head of the Bay, the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, and tied up at Chesapeake Inn and Marina, directly across the canal from our pilot station and the former Schaffers Canal House. The Canal House, a famous restaurant for many, many years has been closed fallen into disrepair, the docks are falling into the Canal. We were told that a new owner has taken things in hand and expects to reopen later this year. One of the principal attractions was it was practically the only place where you could dine while 1,000 foot long seagoing cargo ships pass just a hundred feet or so away from your table. People were also facinated by the opportunity to watch the Delaware and Maryland pilots climb up the sides of the ships on rope pilot ladders as we changed pilots here near the state line.

This will be about my last journal of the trip, we hope to be in Lewes by noon tomorrow. When time permits, I will put together a final wrap up and statistics of the voyage, and send them along. I hope you have all enjoyed traveling along with us, we had a lot of fun writing it up. It was a great trip, we look forward to a wonderful summer on the Delaware Coast and heading back south in the Fall!

We arrived at our dock yesterday before noon. Nancy was on hand to welcome us home. She lives on the beach just five houses away and saw us coming in the jetties. We all had dinner together yesterday evening. We've been busy unloading the boat, doing wash, and working our way through three week's accumulation of mail. It's nice to be home for the summer, but we are already looking forward to the trip back to Vero Beach in the Fall.
Jerri & Paul
Paul Ives


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