Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bristol Rose goes Off-shore

Dolphins travelled with us most of the time while off-shore.
We took advantage of a short weather window that allowed us to head off-shore from Beaufort inlet, NC and come back in 70 miles latter at Masonboro inlet. We sailed 20 miles off shore, saw one other boat and were accompanied by dolphins and rain most of the trip.  Winds peaked around 20 knots, seas two to four foot.  We sailed at a top speed around 7 knots.  The wind was not bad although it was a little confused.  Fishermen we heard on the radio during the day described the seas as "rougher than a corn cob".

It was a relief to see the sea bouy marking the entry to Masonboro inlet after 15 hours and feeling cold and wet.  All in all, we did fine.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

When we were sorting and packing stuff before shipping our belongings back to Australia, we re-visited some of the priceless works of art created by our boys when we first arrived in the States.  Thanksgiving is indeed all about the turkey..... and about being thankful but 
most of all, about family.  We miss you both!
You can see our Thanksgiving meal on our B.Y.O.G. Food & Wine blog - click on the link at right under "Other Bristol Rose Blogs".

Daisie has to get in on the action as Robert charts our course for the next few days.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Scary Moments

The minimum height for fixed bridges over the ICW is 65ft. However, like most things in life there is always an exception to the rule. The Wilkerson Bridge crosses the Aligator-Pungo canal just south of the Alligator River, NC, with a vertical clearance of 64 feet! Bristol Rose's vertical clearance is 63 feet. Too close for comfort but we managed to make it without any problems except for a few more grey hairs. Good thing the tide was low.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Crossing The Albemarle Sound

Boats appear to float on the glassy waters of the Albemarle Sound as the 
Alligator River Swing Bridge opens to allow them to pass to the south.

Following a delightful trip through the Dismal Swamp we were looking forward to stopping and exploring the township of Elizabeth City. We docked at the free dock with the help of Calvin, a Canadian/Jamaican, sailing his Alberg 30 Voyager from Nova Scotia. No sooner had we docked Bristol Rose, Calvin mentioned that tomorrow will be a great weather day to cross the Albemarle Sound. We decided to go for it and departed around 4am. So much for exploring Elizabeth City. As they say, time and tide wait for no man, woman or dog!

Albemarle Sound is the largest freshwater sound in the U.S. It's also reputed to have the roughest inland waters with the potential to quickly turn nasty. So it's worth taking advantage of a favorable weather window. We had a very pleasant crossing with the water positively glassy. Trish's picture of the boats coming behind us through the Alligator River Swing Bridge will give you a sense of just how unpredictable the Albemarle can be!

Voyager at anchor Pungo Creek morning after crossing the Albemarle Sound.

Miss Daisie

Daisie enjoys just being with her family. As a puppy she loved running in the snow but she seems to be feeling the cold. Not surprising given the temps are close to freezing during the day and in the 20’s overnight. Everyone we meet is complaining about the unusually cold weather for this time in the Fall - snow for heaven’s sake! When Miss Daisie’s warm jacket appears, she tries to hide. She gets to dress up anyway, and we throw a sail cover over her if she’s out in the cockpit.

Before we could tie up at the North Carolina Welcome Center on the Great Dismal Swamp she had jumped off the boat to say hello to some of the locals. We can tell she is missing Owen and Elliot and hugs and kisses from Miss Alyss.

Traveling with a pooch can be a challenge. Daisie is sweet tempered and easy to have around. She has some basic needs, like regular trips ashore. She loves the dinghy rides when we are anchored out. She barks encouragement at the outboard and you’d swear she thinks the dinghy is hers exclusively.

Frost covers the dinghy.

The greatest challenge is getting Daisie to “go potty” on command when we are underway and can’t get to shore. Daisie’s training; so far, ongoing! We are using the pungent canine training drops that when dropped in the appropriate place, should prompt a response in dogs to “go potty”. She’s holding on like a trooper. Time for the daily-double; the Daisie dinghy dash.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Images of the Great Dismal Swamp

The end of the Dismal Swamp, Virginia - entering Elizabeth City, North Carolina.Trish, tending the lines in the South Mills Lock and doing a good impersonation of the Michelin Woman. It's cold out here!

River Tapestry - this one is for you, Dawn, a little quilting inspiration?

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Cruising Down the Intracoastal Waterway

The Day of the Triffids, Norfolk, VA.

Anchored overnight Thursday at ICW Mile marker 0 in Norfolk, Virginia. We left Friday am between snow flurries and with wind threatening to blow us over crab pot buoys as we raised the anchor. We had memories of anchoring one dark night off Deal Is. on the Chesapeake only to awake and find ourselves in a sea of crab pots. Robert had the joy of an early morning swim that time, hoping no crab men were watching as he cut the offending line from our prop. Fortunately we were positioned outside swinging distance of the pots in the anchorage this morning.

After the late start from Norfolk, we arrived after 3:30pm, Friday and had to tie up and wait for the 8:30am opening at Deep Creek Lock, Mile 10.5. We were the only boat in sight. Daisie enjoyed dinghying ashore for a run in the park at the lock.
We motored all day Saturday through the Great Dismal Swamp. We're glad we took this route at the last minute. We'd planned to take the Virginia Cut route down the Virginia-North Carolina part of the IntraCoastal Waterway until a call to the North Carolina Welcome Center confirmed there was plenty of water in the canal for our 5ft draft.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Arriving in Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk, VA is a busy port with war ships and commercial shipping at every turn.  The sights to be seen along the waterways heavy with industrial and naval history and activities hold their own unique beauty.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Life has been so hectic over the past few, short months that we’ve barely had time to reflect upon all the changes. Even as we sail south, there are still some details to be completed. Any one of the life changes we are going through would be enough to create a stress overload; retirement from a job of 21 years, selling a home, (talk about timing!), packing up worldly goods and shipping half way around the world, embarking upon an extended cruise to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and the most difficult change of all, becoming “empty nesters”.

After 12 years in the USA, it’s hard to untangle the mess of emotions we’re feeling as we go through the process of uprooting and moving back to Australia. Friends and family ask “Are you excited?”. We can only respond that excitement is just one of the emotions that come to mind, and not necessarily the first.

Being Aussies, we’re doing the reverse of the usual empty nesters’ scenario of American families. We’re stretching our wings with our sailing plans and eventual return to Australia; Owen and Elliot remain in Maryland for the near future to complete technical college and work. We’re sad to be traveling without our children, even though they are very capable young adults, happy with their chosen fields of study and work. We’re missing you and wish you could be traveling with us. We’re looking forward to a break in your schedules - and warmer weather, when you can join us. Daisie is also missing you.
We are grateful to have had many opportunities to expand our horizons while in the USA, both through work and the friendships we have been fortunate to find. We are going to miss our friends and expect to see you in Sydney whenever you can make the trip.

When the time comes to take the final step in our return to our Sydney home, we’ll be looking foward to seeing friends and family there once more. For now and the next few months, we’re excited to be experiencing the wonders of the USA, in our very comfortable home on the water.

Handy, Hardy Minnesotan Winter Training

Our overnight sail down the Chesapeake Bay provided us an excellent opportunity to re-live our four years of winter weather training in Minnesota. Winter survival lessons learned sure came in handy. We may have set a layering record with Robert achieving a 4 and Trish achieving a 5! Daisie decided not to layer-up, preferring to curl up on a settee in the warmth of the cabin. Comfortable, lucky dog!

In freezing temperatures (the 20’s) we’re sailing out of the Magothy River in Maryland, south under the Chesapeake Bay Bridges and on to Norfolk, Virginia. It will be 24 hours before we drop anchor at the Mile 0 mark on the Intracoastal Waterway, (ICW). We need to get south before it gets to the point where staying would mean winterizing the boat and waiting a year to make the trip. Bristol Rose and crew are leaving behind snow flurries and frosted docks for Florida, and come New Year 2009, the islands of the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Although we’ve sailed at night, this is our first overnight sail. We have a weather window that should allow us to get to Norfolk before high winds and snow is expected in the area. We’ve taken Dave’s advice (Starshine), and timed our departure to arrive in Norfolk during daylight.

We’re making good speed, up to 8 knots. Sails are set on a beam reach to close haul. It’s dark now, bitterly cold and cloudy but the sailing is good and steady with both of us managing to get in a few hours of sleep in turn. Close to the shipping channel in the Bay, there’s plenty to keep our attention focused and no chance of falling asleep at the helm, even with BR’s autopilot doing the steering. A glance back over the transom and, oh s#@t! Is that a container ship bearing down on us? Get the engine started, quick! better to move a little further away from the channel.

In the heat of summer you don’t have much appreciation for heating aboard a sail boat. You know it’s cold when ice falls out of the flaked sails onto the deck. We are now benefitting from outfitting decisions made during the building. Walt Shultz in Rhode Island got it right adding Espar diesel heating to his Shannon boats. BR is very comfortable below decks right now.

We’ve been very busy with last minute preparations while at Ferry Point Marina. The owner, Al, John who manages the yard, and everyone at FPM have been very helpful to us.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wow, hard to believe we are leaving

First fall of snow today. Must be time to head south.

So what have we been doing?

  • Left our jobs. What! are you crazy?
  • Sold our house, settlement is 19th December. In this market!
  • Boys have found an appartment in Catonsville, and will move in on December 13th.
  • Shipped all our stuff in a 40ft container to Sydney.
  • Donated a ton of stuff.
  • Elliot is doing a great job selling the rest of the stuff. He has 2 great Honda's for sale.
  • Preparing Bristol Rose ready to leave. This will continue for the remainder of our cruise. Staying ship shape is a never ending job.
So tomorrow, at noon, we will leave our new friends at Ferry Point and look forward to meeting new and old friends along the way. We will be doing our first all night sail, getting into Norfolk, Thursday morning. From there, we will head down the ICW, or the ditch, all the way to Florida.
Stay tuned.

Friday, 14 November 2008