When we looked at the posts done yesterday, we see 2 missing photos, even though they show up on the edit. Just in case they are missing for you, here they are again.


We have been having problems with Internet, and I wrote and lost this post twice already. So this is in bits and I hope keeping it short will allow it to finish.

Doesn't this look like a UFO? Whatever it is, it was moving down the Delaware River. Yes, we did finally get out of the Chesapeake and across the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. Just after we anchored at Reedy Island this strange thing appeared.

The next morning we could see why we had such a quiet night. Several miles of dyke, only visible at low tide, run north and south of Reedy Island. Why they were installed we don't know, but they make a good breakwater for us cruisers.

The next night we moved 15 miles across to the Jersey side and anchored in Cohassey Creek--for more storms. The place has a reputation for bad biting flies, but our "screen room" kept the cockpit pleasant. We took it down too early, though, and all the way to New York, offshore, we were swatting flies.

Yes, the map at the end shows we made a big move. Tonight we are at anchor in Gravesend Bay, just outside the Verranzano Narrows Bridge. Tomorrow, the Statue of Liberty and Hell Gate!


These well known lighthouses dot the Chesapeake, and this one marks the entrance to Annapolis. In 1997 we were working 12 hour days getting our boat ready to go. Now we spent 3 nights on a mooring right in the heart of town, walking around the Academy, visiting the Naval Academy museum, and waiting out more rain.

But our wonderful clears keep us dry in the cockpit, even through record rains.

Ward and Judy LeHardy with Harry and Jane
At the end of the last post, we were on our way to the Norfolk area, where we planned to stay a week or so, visit with our friend David Bridges, and look around for possible places to leave CORMORANT next winter.  We had a wonderful time and found a couple of possible places, so on Wednesday, June 5, we continued north.

On Tuesday, Harry remembered that the people we bought CORMORANT from, back in April of 1997, were now living somewhere on the Chesapeake.  So he called to see if they would like for us to visit.  Immediately, Ward invited us to come and stay at their dock.  They sounded excited about it, so off we sailed for Kilmarnock, VA.  The dock and house are beautiful, and the welcome was warm.  Ward and Judy LeHardy were the second owners of CORMORANT and they sailed her around the world from 1991-1996.  They are still giving talks about their experiences and have written--and are now re-writing-- a book, called "Once Around".  Several of their friends came by to see the boat, and Harry and I had a wonderful time showing them around.  Ward and Judy kept finding things we had changed, and thank goodness they thought the boat was even better for the changes!  We talked and talked and talked.  It is such fun to share stories with people who not only have circumnavigated, as we have, but who did it on the very same boat. 

It rained and rained and then rained some more, so we stayed 3 nights on their wonderful dock.  The last night, as we were having drinks in the cockpit before dinner, they offered to let us use their dock for the winter.  For CORMORANT to spend the winter safe at the dock of people who love her as much as we do just seems to be a perfect fit.  If all goes well, we'll be sailing back sometime in October.

Tonight we will be in Annapolis, where we moved aboard the boat on July 7, 1997, almost 16 years ago.  Wow.

The next day we went through a long cut called the Alligator-Pungo
canal and anchored for the night in the Alligator River.  The following day we actually thought we might be able to sail.  No way.  As we entered Albemarle Sound winds came on the nose at about 20 knots, and with the shallow waters of the sound we were practically stopped.  It reminded us of going up the Red Sea, where often we went out, found conditions unpleasant, and turned around.  We have learned something in all these years, so we turned right around, found a calm and secure anchorage near the mouth of the Alligator, and rested up to try again the next morning.  All was calm, seas were quiet, and we put the mainsail up for the first time since April 2012.  This photo is proof.

A boat parade to make the 11 am lock
Rafting up for overnight at the Visitor's Center in the Dismal Swamp Canal

While we were rafted in the canal we met lots of other cruisers, and as cruisers do we shared information.  One boater had tied up the night before in a nice little harbor-park in the historic part of Portsmouth, right in front of the Lightship Museum.  It is right off the busy Elizabeth River, which is lined with naval shipyards and crisscrossed by ferries and tugs.  A stern wheel paddle ferry docks here, but the rest of the area is available, FOR FREE.  We tied up at 2 pm, went to find ice cream, toured the Lightship Museum, and are now enjoying "sundowners" in the cockpit.  We hear the city lights at night are beautiful. 

We'll stop in Hampton, VA, just on the north side of the harbor, for a few days while we check out possible places to leave CORMORANT for the winter--if that's what we decide to do.
Close to halfway to Maine
At the last post, we were leaving Oriental, NC, after a wonderful visit with cruising friends Dick and Donna.  It was a beautiful, calm morning, but cold.  Slowly, the winds came up and the temperature rose as we wended our way up the Neuse River and then through the narrow cuts in the waterway.  Our night's anchorage was in Pungo Creek, with 33 knot gusts just as the anchor went down.

Our goal was to stay for 2 nights in Elizabeth City, which has a wonderful reputation with  cruisers.  They offer 14 free docks, often greet boats with roses and a wine and cheese party,.  The largest Coast Guard Air Station in the US is here, and the blimp hanger was an amazing sight from the river.  For us, the biggest reason for going this was was that we wanted to go through the Great Dismal Swamp.  When we came down the waterway in 1997 the swamp route was closed because of low water.  Right now it is open, but the controlling depth is only 6 feet.  It is narrow and there are half sunken logs to watch out for as well as overhanging branches to snag your mast, but it was wonderful.  Parts made us think of the "forest primeval", as we puttered along to the sounds of birds and frogs.
Ospreys with chicks nesting on the waterway markers
The canal was dug in the late 1700's and operational by 1805, in order to connect what is now North Carolina with the large seaport and markets of Norfolk and connect those areas by water and road.  George Washington evidently had over 50,000 acres of land which his company logged, and one of the connecting canals is called the Washington Canal.  Because the swamp route of the ICW is shallow and entirely a no wake zone, the fast cruisers who proceed at what we call "swamping speed" all go the other way.  Two full days without constant passing traffic.

CORMORANT at the free dock in Historic Portsmouth, VA
The ICW mustache
I'm sorry about all the typos in the last post (and probably in this one as well). Good Internet is rare so we are using the phone as modem. That means doing the blog updates on the iPhone with the small keyboard and with limited format options. Oh we'll, that's cruising

We did make it into North Carolina and back into Beaufort, our home port, after 15 1/2 years. It has changed, but it is still a wonderful town, friendly to cruisers, with lots of history. When we were here in 1997, it was November and we had ice on the decks so we stayed at the town docks. This time, we looked for space to anchor off the town but found it crowded and so contined up Taylor Creek--and found paradise! Our spot was along Carrot Island, all alone, with wild horses coming to the shore and dolphins playing and feeding alongside the boat. Yet we were just a mile from town which was a easy dinghy ride. As a bonus, we had water which was greenish-blue instead of the strong tea color of marsh creeks. CORMORANT in the photo is wearing what is called the "ICW mustache". We cleaned it off in Beaufort, but since we plan to transit the Great Dismal Swamp, it will be back.
In Beaufort, we played tourist for two days. We spent all of the first day (with. Break for a soft shelled crab sandwich for lunch) at the maritime museum. Surprisingly, it is free. Lots of wonderful boat exhibits, a special section on the discovery and recovery of Blackbeard's ship the Queen Ann's Revenge, and even a working wooden boat building shed kept us fascinated. The next day we rode the red London double decker bus for an overview of the historic buildings of the town, and then we dinghied over to the Rachel Carson reserve for a hike. Like Cumberland Island in Georgia, wild horses roam here. These however are descendants of Spanish horses probably here because of early shipwrecks. The well known children's book, Misty of Chincoteague, is about these wild horses of the outer banks. We are really enjoying the juxtaposition of wild and pristine nature close by fabulous coastal homes and quaint small towns.

Today we are in Oriental, NC, which calls itself the "sailing capital". Everyone here is either a current or past sailor, as are the friends we stopped here to see again. We cruised with them in the Bahamas in 1999 and last saw them in 2001, but we knew our paths would cross again. In true ex-cruiser fashion, they have already driven me to the grocery store. This afternoon they are having us to their house for dinner--and we will take our laundry along!

Next comes the Great Dismal Swamp, so more soon.
April was cold and wet, and since we don't like either kind of weather, we waited. We moved back aboard on Sunday, April 21 and left the dock Tuesday morning for our first stop, Cumberland island GA. I can't even beginto describe the beauty of the place in words. The photo of Harry on one of our hikes will give you an idea. On this morning, we walked for 3 miles along the beach and never saw a single other human being. Because of more rain and cold, and a cracked tooth needing a crown for Jane, we stayed 2 weeks between Cumberland, St Mary's, and Fernandina.
The winds were consistently wrong for making our passage north on the outside, so we stayed in the intracoastal and are glad we did. Much of it is shallow because government budget cuts mean little to no dredging, but the scenery can't be beat. Marsh, cypress swamps, isolated anchorages--and then towns, mega-mansions, and history. In Savannah we walked a couple of miles for "down home" barbecue (photo above). Then the next night we reconnected with good friends for a waterfront dinner. In Georgetown, SC, we toured the Rice Museum and motored by plantations from the 18th and 19th centuries. Then, on a very sharp curve in the ICW we came bow to bow with the huge tug and tow in the photo. At least 4 tugs, five barges, a sharp curve, and low tide in an already shallow spot. Our nerves we stretched, but somehow we got by.

Finally though, it happened. Yesterday we ran aground on a falling tide and couldn't get off. We could have just waited bout 4 hours, but fortunately we decided to add towing insurance to our Boat US membership. We are happy to say that it DOES work. No harms one, and tomorrow we will cross into North Carolina.

For family reasons, we turned around at Brunswick last July, returned to Jacksonville, and "parked" the boat at Ortega Landing Marina.  In the fall, with real estate prices still low in Florida but starting to rise, we bought this house and now, after almost 16 years of living aboard full time, we have a land base.   But the anchor does not yet have a solid hold on us.  Within the next 2 weeks we will be heading north slowly with plans to spend some time up the Potomac in Washington, DC and then get to Maine by the beginning of August.  As usual, all our plans are "set in jello" and we will continue to update this blog along the way.

After months alone in the marina, CORMORANT needs a bit of TLC to get ready to go again and we have been working more and more as the weather warms.  Provisions have to be checked, bought, and stored.  The companionway door has now been stripped and oiled (no more varnishing outside teak), and Harry is replacing all the hoses in the head.  The engine is already serviced so it won't be long now!  It just feels like sailing weather and we are almost underway.
Harry enjoying the screens
Where did June go?  We spent the first half of the month still at Camachee Cove Marina in Saint Augustine, Florida.  Justin, of Cooper's Canvas, was working full time to design, build and install a complete replacement of our bimini, insert, and dodger as well as a full enclosure with both clears and screens.  CORMORANT has a canoe stern and a rather difficult cockpit entrance, so it was a real challenge.  Justin's work is outstanding and with new "natural" colored canvas and dark green screens matching our hull stripe, we look like a new boat.  It is a real change for us, because we have always been a blue water ready boat, with enough canvas for dryness in the companionway and a little shade, but nothing more.  Now, we are going to be cruising the east coast for a couple of years, so we are going for more of the "sunroom" approach.  When we left in 1997 heading south in November along the waterway, we envied those folks in T shirts inside their enclosures.  This year that will be us!

One of the bonuses of choosing Cooper's Canvas is that the marina, Camachee Cove, is half price while the work is being done.  That is a great offer for any cruiser.  We were in the marina for tropical storm Beryl, whose eye, at just below hurricane strength, went right over St. Augustine.  The protection is great there and we had no damage at all.  We hauled out there too for our annual bottom job, and you can see in the photo that the work was very good and professional.  Just a caution for others, though.  They seem to think that one coat of paint is normal, and if you want two, be sure you settle on a price first.

Another maybe hurricane and Brunswick, Georgia

We made a little progress to the north, but only 3 days after leaving Saint Augustine a massive low developed in the Gulf and we decided to go into Brunswick Landing Marina to wait and see what might develop.  Brunswick has a reputation of being a good hurricane hole, and we are very secure up the river.  Debbie did develop and created lots of problems, but mostly it was just lots and lots of rain and some flooding.  But she was slow, so the days passed by.  Like lots of places here it seems, once you stay over 5 days you have paid for a month, so we are still here enjoying the area, waiting to see Jane's brother who lives in Thailand and is coming for a visit on Thursday, and just messing around with all the normal boat projects.  We have a new map up, but our line just barely shows at the bottom.  We hope to get to Washington DC this season.
The Camp
The River
Before coming, we did a little more exploring around the Saint Augustine area.  Besides boats, Harry loves trains and old cars, so he was in heaven.  Out in the country we found a train club, and Harry was even allowed to drive (but without passengers). 
Car, St. Augustine
daily cruise boat, St. Augustine
We're in Louisiana to attend Harry's 50th high school reunion, and we are so lucky that this time we can stay with his sister at her friend's camp on the river.  What a treat.  From the time we saw Rob and Renee in NO, it seems like we have done nothing but eat and talk.  For Sunday lunch for the 4 of us, we had 12 pounds of crawfish and 3 pounds of boiled shrimp!  Then here at the camp we had a memorial day cook out. Fresh grilled Copper River salmon Emmy carried back with her on the plane from Seattle, a large barbecued brisket, and 3 deserts. Next, it was juicy fried catfish topped with crawfish etouffe.   I won't continue, but you get the idea...

The really wonderful thing is being at the camp. In LA, a camp is a rustic week-end place, usually on a river or lake. This one is on high ground right by the Tangipoa River in Ponchatoula, so it is convenient yet a world away. The camp is a big square building, but only half has solid walls, and the kitchen, bath and shower are there. The rest all has short walls with screen above, a big table for meals, and beds lined up on the porch for sleeping. No TV, no traffic noise--just the insects and the frogs and the owls at night.
Harry gets to drive!