The Voyage of FORTY TWO – The Atlantic and Chesapeake to North Carolina

October 1 we officially entered the Atlantic Ocean after rounding Sandy Hook at the mouth of New York Harbor. By 0900 we had sails up and were heading south to Barnegat Inlet. Unfortunately the wind did not hold and by 1100 we had the sails down and were motoring once more. Barnegat Inlet was an interesting entrance with large swells cutting across and a strong current running out, but once inside the anchorage was very nice. However, the next morning as we prepared to leave the anchor dragged. When we pulled it up there was a huge mass of weed on the fluke so obviously holding was not as good as we thought. At least the drag occurred when we were awake and not late at night.

With the anchor up we left just before high tide for the run down to Atlantic City. A short day of only 36 miles. We anchored in the pool north of town. A very nice protected anchorage with a tricky entrance about 20 feet wide marked with sticks that Skipper Bob says has 6 feet at low water. Sure enough we touched bottom twice at the entrance but the bottom is mud, so no problem. That evening we were treated to lightning and a thunderstorm all around us.

Sunday we decided late to leave for Cape Henlopen and once again went out at high tide so we would get the advantage of the current carrying us south. Motor sailed with Mskoki and Tippen with the jib up. Tippen left us and pulled into Cape May and Mskoki and us continued on to the anchorage where we arrived just as the sun set. Unfortunately about 20 minutes later a ferry came in and complained that we did not leave them enough turning room so we had to pull up anchor and move to outside the ferry terminal wall. Not as protected an anchorage, but the wind was light and variable so no problem.

Next morning was an early start with Mskoki to catch the rising tide to carry us up the Delaware Bay. This was an exciting run with the jib out and the motor running and speeds of up to 9 knots as we rode the incoming tide the entire length of the bay. At one stage Brian counted 19 sails around us as others headed up the bay for the run south. Entered the C&D Canal at 1500 and continued on to Chesapeake City where we anchored in the small harbor there. It was very crowded but we were in a good spot. Later arrivals had to leave as there was no space left. It was really interesting to later watch car carriers and one cruise liner negotiate the bridge at Chesapeake City – it seemed as if there was not enough clearance but they got through.

After some maintenance work we left early afternoon for the Sassafras River. Our original intent was to anchor in Turner Creek off the main river but after getting stuck briefly in the mud at the entrance decided that the bay on the other side was more suitable. We ran the dogs ashore to a nice sandy beach at low tide. Noticed that there were a lot of empty clam shells so decided to see what was there. Must have been auspicious as when we got back on board we found we had collected exactly 42 little neck clams. Cooked up with a can of stewed tomatoes and home baked flat bread with pesto they made a great meal that evening.

Then on to Annapolis! Managed to sail much of the Chesapeake until we passed under the Bay Bridge. Tried to find space in Back Creek but the anchorage was full so finished up in the naval anchorage in front of the Naval Academy in almost the same place as Jack and I anchored last year. We spent four days in Annapolis, one day at the boat show, one day at the Seven Seas Cruising Association meeting and two days relaxing including some shopping and a visit to the Naval Academy. Jim and Joni met us on the first day and brought our life raft with them so we now have that mounted on deck. For the last night we moved to Spa Creek which is much more sheltered as the wind was expected to get up that night. While in Annapolis we met up with Mskoki, Crusader, Sabbatical and Renaissance from the Erie Canal leg, and also met another Newport 41 Ensuendo that has come from San Francisco to the East Coast via the Panama Canal. We also stopped by another yacht Starship Annie that had a Northumberland hailing port. Brian asked where they were from and explained that he had worked in Morpeth some times. “Did you work for Searle?” When he replied “yes” the next question was “Do you know Joan T?” What a small world we really live in when two boats can meet thousands of miles from their home port and find they have someone in common.

We left Annapolis for St Michaels on the east shore of the bay. Bill and Patty on Renaissance recommended that we went in the back way up the Choptank River, Broad Creek and into San Domingo Creek. Found ourselves in a wonderful protected anchorage with only one other yacht. Next morning when we visited the Chesapeake Maritime Museum we found the main anchorage crowded and not well protected so we were more than happy with Bill and Patty’s advice.

Our next stop was Solomon’s Island, back on the west side of the bay. Once we were out in Broad Creek we got both sails up and sailed on a broad reach to the Solomon’s. Not only was it a great sail but we also caught our first fish in the mouth of the Patuxent River – a small jack that made a great breakfast later. We have also bought a crab pot and have two crabs so far. Not exactly living off the land but a welcome supplement to our food stocks.

Wednesday the 13th we left the Solomon’s for Deltaville. The weather forecast was for North winds becoming South 5 – 10 knots so we expected to motor part of the way. Well the morning started off as a beautiful day with a slight mist on the Patuxent as we left and then both sails up for several hours. Then the wind changed and the predicted 5 – 10 knots became 15 – 20 then gusts of 30 all right on the nose. After several hours of this we were able to change course to Deltaville and now found us with beam seas of 5 – 8 feet. A really nasty cross sea that flipped the dingy three times even though we had shortened up the tow line so the dingy was just off the stern. We had to endure about an hour of this until we got far enough into the bay for some protection. But that was not all the day would throw at us! The entrance to Jackson’s Creek is very narrow and winds around with a charted depth of at least 8 feet at low tide. So we went in at low tide and found ourselves briefly aground in the middle of the channel at one of the bends. Fortunately we were able to back off then power through and finally get inside to anchor in the creek. Caught two more blue crabs in the creek so we now have four – enough for an appetizer.

We left Deltaville early in the morning for the final run to Norfolk and the end of the Chesapeake Bay. An uneventful day motor sailing with the jib out on a close reach and the final section into Hampton Roads and down the Elizabeth River a long slow motor against the tide. Stayed the night at the Tidewater Marina, our first marina stay since New York! Left at 0800 the next morning to make the first bridge opening at 0830 and onto the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). By 1000 the heavens had opened and the rain continued very heavy for the next two hours, then on and off for the rest of the day. Spent all our time dodging wakes from powerboats or as we prefer to call them ‘pottyboats’ as most of them are driven by s**ts. Spent the night tied up in Coinjock, NC and had a great oyster and clam dinner at the local restaurant to celebrate passing 2000 miles.

Our planned trip the next day was cut short part way. We had intended to go across Albemarle Sound which starts about 15 miles from Coinjock. However by the time we got to the start of the Sound the wind was 20 – 25 knots right on the nose and we had no desire to punch the next 20 miles in those conditions. Once again the NOAA forecast did not meet reality! So we went back a few miles to Broad Creek anchorage. There was already one yacht there when we arrived and by end of day another yacht and a trawler had come in as well. We actually anchored in the mouth of the creek, although Skipper Bob’s says you can get inside. We are getting a little gun shy of shallow water. This was a good test of our new anchor system as the wind continued into the late evening. We were in 10 feet of water with 60 feet of chain out and although we were stretching back on the chain we were not veering about so we were not uncomfortable.

Next morning the wind had swung to northwest and we all set off early for the Albemarle Sound. What a difference the right wind makes! The waves were almost non existent and we were able to motor sail all the way across the sound and up the Alligator River to the bridge with the jib out. Forty Two loved these conditions and romped along at 7 – 8 knots motor sailing with the jib on a close reach; we were the last yacht out of the anchorage, but the first to the bridge. Rolled the jib up for the bridge and then unwrapped again for the rest of the river up to the Alligator-Pungo Cut. We had planned to stay on the Alligator River for the night, but made such good time that we decided on an anchorage in the middle of the cut. When we got there we decided that anchorage was not good as it was in the entrance to a very narrow canal. We had time to push on to finally anchor in the Pungo River which was very attractive with pines on one side and low marshes on the other.

From Pungo River we headed towards Belhaven and stopped in Dowry Creek to top up the fuel tank. Unfortunately once again the weather gods did not cooperate and we motored all the way to Broad Creek. No.. not the one we stopped at two days earlier. It seems that every body of water here has a Broad Creek entering into it: this one was on the Neuse River. A tricky but well marked entrance opened up into a nice sheltered anchorage that we shared with a trawler and later two other yachts. We were treated that night to loud rumblings in the distance that sounded like thunder which we finally realized were from a bombing range on the Outer Banks.

0800 the next morning we left Broad Creek for our final leg to New Bern up the Neuse River past Oriental, Minnesott Beach and Arapahoe with their summer camps on the water, until we finally turned the corner and could see the bridge at New Bern. The excitement built as we got closer to Broad Creek and turned for Blackbeard Sailing Club and we realized we could see the roofs of our townhome complex just poking above the trees on the shore. And finally at 1430 we turned into Blackbeard’s marina and tied up, three months and 2200 miles from Racine.

This ends our October log. We will spend a few weeks here with a visit from Judy’s daughter Margaret and finishing up the work we did not complete before leaving, especially the new 12 volt system and the bimini top for more sun shade.

Fair winds,

Brian & Judy