Foreword.We've had our happy times in the Bahamas, and now it's time to head north once again.

 

Monday, June 7, 1999.Miami to Fort Lauderdale.I go out on a foot tour of the South Beach area of Miami Beach and catch a lucky bus back to the marina.I don't know what the locals on the bus thought of this sweaty and smelly rider who sat amidst them.We load up on water and head up Government Cut to the Intracoastal Waterway.†† I'm expecting a rather nasty start to our trip north, with ugly bridgetenders and lots of PWCs and unpleasant boaters to deal with.It just doesn't happen.†† The bridgetenders are generally prompt and polite.†† There are few PWCs and those are not at all interested in us.†† There isn't much traffic for that matter.†† Of course, it is a workday.†† We are awed by the number and size of the high rise condos along the ICW.†† The bridges are all low, as there is no available space to ramp the street up or down.†† The bulkheads along the waterway are all two feet or less from the water surface.†† It wouldn't take much of a storm here to cause some major flooding.

 

High rises give way to more suburban and then to natural surroundings.†† We make our way north to Fort Lauderdale.†† Here, we see one of the yacht transport vessels loading yachts for transport halfway around the world.†† The large ship is filled with water, and partially sunk.†† Then, the yachts are floated in to their positions and shored up in place.†† Then the water is pumped out of the transport ship, and the yachts are in drydock.†† I was interested in taking the Amberjack to Europe this way until I learned that the one way cost would be $ 40,000.

 

We turn up the New River in search of a marina called Cooley's Landing.†† It is one of several run by the city of Fort Lauderdale and is reported in the guide books to be an excellent stopover.†† The New River deserves some description.†† It winds through the city and is home to some megayacht builders and refurbishers.†† The river is quite narrow and makes some sharp turns.†† Every few blocks, there is a drawbridge, and most of them are just at the Amberjack's clearance height, 21 feet.†† As the lowest bridge opens, a 90‑foot yacht appears on the other side.†† I back down and let him have the first passage.

 

Cooleys Landing is a row of slips in a parklike setting fronting on the narrow river.†† We tie up at the end and go in search of the dockmaster.†† She is having lunch on a large motor sailor.†† She suggests that we move down in front of the office building, both for better security and to keep the end slips open for crabbers and fishermen.††† We get settled and check out our surroundings.†† There is a modern office, shower, and a large laundry.Dockage is 70 cents a foot per night.†† We need to get some serious things done so we decide to stay for a week and rent a car to get around.†† While you can get groceries and marine supplies within walking distance, we need to go to distant places like Home Depot.

 

Tuesday, June 8, 1999 through Tuesday, June 15, 1999, Cooley's Landing.The heavens have opened at dawn and it seems that the deluge is upon us again.†† I pull on my slicker and go into the office building to call the car rental company.†† Shortly.a car arrives for me and I am chauffeured to the Enterprise office, which is ominously located in the BMW dealer's service department.†† We now have a week of doing upgrades on the Amberjack getting laundry done, and shopping, and whatever else we can squeeze in.†† I leave in a downpour and drive back to the boat.†† The rain continues all day, and by the next morning, Fort Lauderdale has received a record amount of rainfall for a 24‑hour period.†† No less than 12 inches of rain have fallen.

 

The next morning promises more rain, but for the moment, Iím able to get to Home Depot and get some 1 1/2 inch pipe for a sun shade for the aft deck.We've been through the tropical sun, and it is extremely important to have the aft deck area shaded.†† I have come up with a simple PVC framework, which shouldn't weigh much.Weight is an important factor, as weight that high significantly affects the stability of a vessel.I load a huge quantity of PVC pipe into the little car and take it back to the boat.In the parking lot, I create a framework.The big drawback is the plumbers' glue which I intended to use.This stuff sets so fast, I can't get the pieces into position.I decide to scrap the glue idea, since this thing doesn't have to hold water.I put it together without glue, and get it into position over the aft deck.Then I go around drilling holes for self tapping screws in each joint.Soon, the entire assembly is together.

 

My plan is to simply cover it with a tarp for now.I don't have time to go searching out an expert to make a custom made cover for it.I purchase a silver colored tarp that is advertised to last longer and be stronger than the conventional blue tarp.We lace this thing into place,and we have a shelter for the back deck.

 

The next morning, the heavens open again.Within a few minutes, it is obvious that my simple tarp is in trouble.The water has gathered in pockets,and as the water flows in, each pocket gets bigger and bigger.My shade shelter is now carrying about 100 gallons of waterand the uprights are beginning to wobble under the weight.I don my raingear and rush out to save my masterpiece.Great torrents of water thunder down as I push up on the gray underbellies.

 

Well, we need more work on this idea.The next morning, I'm back at Home Depot.Several options are evident, but any of them would be expensive and would look terrible.Something that seems worth a try is simple sheets of hard foam plastic.Used for insulation,these sheets are 2 inches thick and 4 feet by 8 feet.Further, the price is right, about eight dollars a sheet.We decide to buy several sheets of this and use it to bolster the shelter.The big problem is getting it back to the boat on the small car we've rented.

 

Itís still showering as we lash the huge sheets onto the roof of the small car.We take off, knowing that anything more than 25 mph will cause the fragile foam blocks to break and become just so much more debris along the highways.We use back streets until we get the feel of this beast.Eventually, we find ourselves on route 1.This should have been a piece of cake, but route 1 in this area is a high speed highway, and we're hard put to keep the fragile foam plastic from being blown away.Despite all the problems, we make it back to the marina in one piece.We find that inserting the foam plastic is very easy.And soon we have a "hard' top that is impressive.Just on time, the rains commence, and we're able to give this new idea a test.I should note that I am intending to replace this jury rig with a more permanent vinyl enclosed top.But I will keep the PVC framing and the foam plastic fill.This setup is very light and still quite sturdy.A torrential downpour shows that the new system works quite well.The rain just rolls off the new semi hardtop,

 

The high price and dubious quality of "clean" water in the Bahamas has given us a strong desire for a reverse osmosis watermaker.There are dozens of companies offering these machines for sale.There are also dozens of advisors saying that the average boater should NOT get into this high technology.For someone who was voted class gadgeteer in high school, that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.One afternoon I drop Marilyn off at a supermarket and go around the corner to visit a West Marine.On the way back, I notice a watermaker company.†† I wheel into the parking lot and visit the salesroom.The company has the quaint name of Village Marine.They also have rather awesome credentials as suppliers to the US Navy.Their pumps are machined from solid blocks of titanium.All this is enough to sell me, but the price matches the quality.It is far higher than we'd expected to pay.

 

We spend one afternoon driving up to West Palm Beach to visit another manufacturer.Their product is just not as good as what I saw earlier.But they do give a solid discount if you pay cash.On the way back to the boat, I take Marilyn to the Village Marine office.I ask about several units that I saw that had used tags on them, with reduced prices.The price of one of these units matches the prices of much smaller units from competitors.We buy a watermaker.Six gallons per hour, 150 gallons per day.How much water can we use??By the time all the support plumbing has been added we're in for about $ 2600.At the current Bahamian rate of 40 cents per gallon, this accounts for approximately 6500 gallons of water, but weíll know the water is safe.

 

Another improvement to the boat is the addition of a device that keeps the satellite dish aimed at the satellite when the boat swings at anchor.There is a compass in the device, and that signal is fed to a servo motor, somewhat similar to an autopilot.This adds a lot to the TV use in places like the Exumas, where there is no live TV reception.It also has a safety advantage in that we can get the weather channel and have an idea of what the weather will be.Our time is taken up with the above projects.We also take a day to drive across Florida to visit with Marilyn's mother.We go back to Calusa Isles where we'd stored the boat last winter to settle some unfinished business.While there, Millie, Marilyn and I have a pleasant lunch at Shuckers Restaurant.

 

Wednesday, June 16, 1999,Fort Lauderdale to Lantana.Again, with a good deal of reluctance, we pay our bill, return the car, and take off the lines at Cooleys Landing.We stop at the famous Pier 66 to fuel up, and head up the ICW for Forked River.There are numerous bridges and many low speed areas in this part of the waterway.An interesting aspect of travel on the water here is the imposition of a 15‑inch wake limit.Regardless of the vessel, the wake must not exceed 15 inches at a distance of 25 feet from the vessel.

 

Rain is still very much a possibility and the skies are leaden, but we get little more than a passing sprinkle.We've covered little more than 35 miles, but at least we're on the move.We ease over to the west and anchor in an allegedly great spot off the launching ramp at Lantana.When I take Duchess in to shore, I find that we've landed in a No Dogs Allowed county park.Well, she did what she had to do, and I cleaned it up.The night is very quiet.

 

Thursday, June 17, 1999, Lantana to Vero Beach.I decide to try a float I saw in front of a restaurant.This landing is worse than the one last night.I have to take the dog through the outdoor section of the now closed restaurant.Of course, there are signs stating, no dogs allowed.She gets walked and we get back on the dink without being arrested.

 

More sodden clouds and nearby thunderstorms threaten us as we travel north.No rain as we get to Vero Beach, although it looks like it will pour at any time.We pick up a mooring here and I go in to pay for it.Duchess and I are able to conduct our business and get back to the Amberjack without getting wet.

 

Friday, June 18,1999, Vero Beach to Cocoa.The skies are still somewhat overcast, but it's not raining, and we get a nice walk ashore, One notable item is a houseboat which has been planted with floral plants until it looks like a floating garden.We start the steady process northward and find Cocoa, Florida.Cocoa is a small town with a lot of civic pride.Here we have a park with a boardwalk and a launching ramp off to one side.The dinghy dock is expansive, but so is the climb up to it.The park has the inescapable signs excluding dogs, but there are dogs everywhere and no one seems to be paying any mind to the signs.What do they expect us to do with our pets ??

 

Saturday, June 19, 1999, Cocoa to Daytona Beach.We pull the anchor at Cocoa without incident and head north once again.The ride is uneventful and soon we are in the outskirts of Daytona Beach.We've been at anchor for several nights and we are in need of a pumpout.So we go in to a marina that is advertised to offer Boat US discounts and to have a pumpout.We find that the pumpout machine is not functioning.We take a slip anyway.The marina is located in a part of Daytona Beach that is being very effectively renewed by the city.There are large senior citizen complexes, along with upscale marina projects.My exercise program is going well, but the numbness in the leg is not diminishing.I'm also getting back to my walking/running program.But walking is limited, for any extensive time on my feet increases the back pain.

 

The control box on our new Follow Me TV system has gone brain dead.The thing is still working, but I can't adjust it at all.We decide to just let the thing run until I can contact the manufacturer.It draws only a fraction of an ampere.

 

Sunday, June 20, 1999, Daytona Beach to Saint Augustine.We get underway and head north.The weather is good.How long can this last? We consider going into Marineland, just below St.Augustine, but we're too late for the show, and there is nothing to attract us there.The town dock at St. Augustine has a pumpout, but there is a large boat tied up for the night.We will do the pumpout tomorrow.

 

Monday, June 21, 1999, St. Augustine to Fernandina Beach.I take a walk through town and we move the boat over to the pumpout.When the dock attendant comes over,he says, "You know there is a 25 dollar fee for a pumpout, don't you?"We assure him that we did not know.No pumpout again.We leave and head north to Fernandina Beach.We go into the Amelia Island Yacht Basin, which is south of town, and immediately get a pumpout.We decide to tie up here, because they have a courtesy car,and we can do a little touring and shopping.

 

Tuesday, June 22, 1999, Fernandina Beach to Brunswick, Georgia.The weather is still good, and we leave the Yacht Basin.The day ends with a little detour from the waterway to visit the waterfront at Brunswick, Ga.The full page ad in the waterway guide tells what a wonderful and historic place this is.When we get there, we find a modern and spacious town dock, but the dock office is closed.We take a slip and try to call the boatyard that operates the dock.This produces a recorded message.I leave a message on the machine and we settle in.There is no way of knowing what we'll be paying for this night.

 

Folks on the sailboat next door come in and inform us that dockage is 60 cents per foot per night.They also inform us that whoever wrote the copy for the ad had obviously never been to Brunswick.At the end of the dock sits a huge gambling ship.It travels out beyond the three mile limit for gaming.We watch as passengers load aboard and it pulls out.

 

We meet the folks aboard a 27‑foot Albin named the Pokey Dot.We have a pleasant chat with them.The next morning, they get an early start.

 

Wednesday, June 23,1999, Brunswick, Ga.to St. Catharines Island, Ga.No call from the boatyard and we're ready to leave.I decide to have a walk around town and then go up the half mile to the boatyard.My back is giving me some pain, but not too bad.At the marina, I find the manager and get a ride back.We settle the bill and get on our way.

 

Enroute, we overtake the Pokey Dot.They are planning to anchor at the same side river that we are planning to use, Walburg Creek behind St.Catharines Island.This island is private and does not encourage visitors,so it will depend on where I can get Duchess ashore.When we arrive, I find that the only deserted beach is about a mile and a half north of the settlement and actually in the sound north of the island.Itís too far for the little outboard on the dink so I decide to use the big motor.We get anchored and get the big outboard out.I delay as long as possible and take the dog for a walk.She should now be good until morning.

 

Thursday, June 24, 1999 St.Catharines Island, Ga.to Hilton Head, SC.I awaken to severe back pain.It is so bad, there is no way I can take Duchess to shore.There is no way I can do anything.I lay on the saloon floor and that is all I can do.We debate what action to take.We could stay put and see what happens, but the long dinghy ride for the dog is not very practical.We could call emergency services and get me to a medical facility, but that would be a real mess, leaving the boat in an isolated area at anchor.We decide to have Marilyn walk the dog, and then tow the dinghy to our next stop, Hilton Head.There, I will be able to get help if needed.Right now, there is no way we can lift the big outboard back up on the Amberjack.

 

The dog walk goes well, but Marilyn is certain she saw an alligator in the water off the beach.I eat my breakfast lying flat on my back on the deck.It is required that I get on the aft deck to rig the dinghy line for towing.I hobble up the stairs, mostly supporting myself with my arms.I tie the knot and then go up to the fly bridge to help Marilyn with raising the anchor.While doing this, the pain eases as swiftly as it came on.But it doesn't go away.There is still a strong general pain in the lower back.More ominous, there is a lot of numbness in my left leg and Iím having some motor skills problems with walking.There has definitely been some nerve damage.

 

We get the anchor up and start out for Hilton Head.Marilyn does much of the driving, and I lie on the couch on the flybridge advising her.Later, I am able to take a short session in the helm seat.The miles go by, and soon we are in the bay behind Hilton Head.Our objective for the evening is the Harbor Town Marina.This is the one you see on all the calendars.It has a circular shape and has a functioning lighthouse.We pull in for fuel and for assistance in getting the outboard and the dink back where they belong.Then we get into a slip and get settled for the night.

 

This marina is one of the few that provide transients with a telephone line.I've never used the shore phone line on the boat, and this is a good time to test it.Once I disconnect the cellular phone from the boat system, the dockside line works fine.I decide to resume my full back exercise schedule and see whether I can improve my back situation.I know from previous sessions that this will be the first prescription from any medical person.

 

Friday, June 25, 1999 Hilton Head to Skull Creek Marina.First thing in the morning, I call the Follow Me TV Company about my dead control box.It turns out that one of the owners is at his home on the north end of Hilton Head and he has a new unit.To simplify the exchange, we travel 14 miles to the Skull Creek Marina.The exchange goes well and the new unit is in operation.I should point out that the device works quite nicely in the Intracoastal Waterway.There is no wave action here of course, and the only thing that needs to be done is to make an adjustment for the change in deck angle when we're underway.

 

Saturday, June 26, 1999, Hilton Head to Edisto Island, SC.We're in a slip with a current coming down on our stern.The fairway between docks runs across the current.I completely forget about the current and try to back out and turn.Before the turn to port is partly completed, the boat is being carried into the stem of the boat next to me.I quickly belay that turn and try to get the boat back into the slip.I almost make it, but the small anchor catches the piling.When we get back into the slip.I back out to port and then continue backing down the fairway to open water.But the encounter with the concrete piling has bent the anchor davit to port.

 

The weather is quiet and the run to Edisto Island is uneventful.At Edisto, we anchor in a side channel across the waterway from a launching ramp.This enables me to get the dog to shore easily.In the evening I notice a black form moving purposefully in the water near the shoreline.A check with the binoculars confirms that it is an alligator. Another one passes by a little later.Just a few minutes earlier, we were watching dolphins fishing in the same channel.

 

Sunday, June 27, 1999, Edisto Island to McClellanville, SC.The time has come to change oil in the engines again.The procedure takes about two hours, but it is getting to be routine now.Just as I get the job done, the wind comes up and pushes the Amberjack uncomfortably close to the riverbank.We get the anchor up and get out of there.

 

Our run today brings us to McClellanville, SC, This small town is a major shrimping center.We get a tieup at the dock, just behind two large shrimp boats,

 

Monday, June 28, 1999, McClellanville, SC.to North Myrtle Beach, SC. The weather is still overcast.We watch as a team of six men wheel and carry baskets of shrimp off the shrimp boats.Marilyn takes a walk down to the seafood company and gets some really jumbo shrimp.There isn't anything else, but there is plenty of shrimp at a very good price.The run to Myrtle Beach is routine and we are at the Barefoot Landing dock early in the afternoon.This dock is free and is provided by the large shopping center that goes by this name.

 

Tuesday, June 29, 1999, North Myrtle Beach, SC.We're staying over for another night.I get the bicycle down for the first time on this trip, and travel about two miles to the nearest supermarket, a Harris Teeter.The highway in this area is six lanes wide with no shoulder, but I'm able to make the entire trip through adjoining parking lots.There are only two short stretches where I have to travel along the edge of the highway.This area suffers from far too many junky souvenir shops and tee shirt stores.

 

In the evening we treat ourselves to dinner out at T‑Bonz.It is not memorable.This is the second restaurant that hasn't made our "return to" list.Oh well.there are thirteen more to try.Barefoot Landing is also the site of the Alabama Theater, and the House of Blues.Both of these big music shows are a possibility for a future visit.

 

Wednesday, June 30, 1999 North Myrtle Beach to Wrightsville, NC.We get an early start, despite showers that deluge the boat.The trip up the canal is uneventful, but there are nuisance showers that require the bridge to be closed up.When we make the turn to the north in the Cape Fear River, the strong outrunning current combines with the wind coming up the river and the seas become rather nasty.I catch a ride on the wake of a boat similar to ours and push the throttles up.We charge up the river and are soon in the quiet waters but strong currents of Snow Cut.Once we've cleared the cut, we're still pushed along by the wind, and the current is less effective than before.

 

We move steadily up the waterway and by midafternoon we've come to Wrightsville and Wrightsville Beach, The wind is now becoming something of a concern, as it is very strong.We head to the Seagate Transient Dock and Yacht Club.Despite the confusing name, this marina has two hundred slips, nearly all of which are occupied.It has only a few transient slips and we spend the night at the fuel dock.The amenities are extensive,including a pool, a laundry, and a courtesy car.

 

Thursday, July 1, 1999 Wrightsville, NC to New River Inlet, NC.It rains really hard during the night and it blows really hard during the night.My little weather station has recorded a gust of 72 miles per hour at 3:30 am.The boat is well washed down, so no further rinsing is necessary.Yesterday, Marilyn took advantage of the laundry and today is shopping day.She goes off in the courtesy car, a venerable Pontiac in good working order, to do the food shopping.I get busy changing the oil in the generator.It doesn't really need it now,but I find that once you start adding oil, its better to change it.While changing the oil, I note that the belt is really cracked and ready to fail.It's my turn to use the courtesy car.I find a West Marine, and a Home Depot on the way to the auto parts store.An inquiry turns up the information that there is a Sam's Club nearby.Wrightsville is definitely on the A list as a stopover on the ICW.

 

I get all my, chores done and it is time to leave.With winds still near 20 mph, it is a little tricky getting off the dock.Once off, we get back on the ICW and head north.There are several bridges in this area with a clearance of 20 feet.So we lower the five antennas and then lower the telephone antenna, bringing our clearance height to what I believe to be 18 feet.The trip under the first bridge in Wrightsville is a little nervewracking,but we clear the bridge and get on our way,

 

The dolphin population is definitely thinning.In Florida, we'd see a small family group every thousand feet or so.Here, you only see a pod every couple of hours.Our stately progress is punctuated by a mad dash to make the bridge opening at Surf City.NC.This swing bridge opens only on the hour, so you're in for a long wait if you time it wrong.The marina at Swan's Point is right on the waterway, and we're tied up to the outside dock, right next to the waterway.They offer a courtesy car here, too, but I think we've gotten all our errands done.

 

Friday, July 2, 1999, New River Inlet to Oriental, NC.We need fuel, and the marina just next to where we're staying has a sign selling diesel at 59.9 cents per gallon.On my morning walk, I stop by and check the price out.It really is 59.9 cents per gallon They tell me they sell a lot of fuel, so I decide it will be safe to buy from them.We fuel up and start north.The run from New River to Oriental is quiet until we get out on the Neuse River.There we encounter fairly strong seas, but they are following seas.Soon we're across the river and behind the breakwater at Oriental.

 

This town has a free dock that will hold two boats the size of the Amberjack.There is no power or water, but the price is right.When we were southbound in October, we were fortunate to get one of the spots.The odds are practically zero that we'll luck out on a busy weekend.But, when we get into the harbor, there is one side open.We pull right in and tie up.Another skipper later told me he arrived shortly before us, and there was a boat there, so he anchored,

 

It turns out that this is Oriental's Croaker Festival and Fourth of July Celebration.There are county fair type stalls at a nearby park.There is to be a parade and fireworks.

 

Saturday, July 3, 1999.Oriental, NC.The parade starts at 10:30 and proceeds right past the Amberjack.We sit on the flybridge with cold drinks in hand.The parade is lead by a Marine Band, and followed by endless organizations and groups.The fireworks are to be close to the boat too.Too close.The show is modest but rather good.The big problem is debris from the rockets.The next morning, the boat is covered with sooty,dirty junk.There is only one dime‑sized burn spot where an ember landed.

 

Sunday, July 4, 1999, Oriental to Belhaven, NC.We start the day by washing the boat down with harbor water.The wind is calm and the Neuse River is flat.We make our way north and east and enter the Pungo river.Belhaven is a sleepy little town with two first class marinas and a launching ramp.We anchor off the ramp and settle for the night.A walk through town discloses that yesterday was Belhaven's centennial celebration, with a parade and fireworks.Well, Duchess will get a peaceful night, anyway.

 

Monday, July 5, 1999, Belhaven to Alligator River, NC.The moon is at half phase and is riding high over Belhaven just before daybreak on this summer morning.I take Duchess to shore and we walk a couple of blocks to the nearest newspaper vending machine.Itís half a buck and on this holiday, itís not worth a dime.We make our way back to the boat and go about preparing for the day's travels.They are having a heat wave in New Jersey and it will probably grace us today.

 

The thermal assault commences before we reach the headwaters of the Pungo River.The 20‑mile long canal east to the Alligator River is just as hot.By the time we've cleared the swing bridge and made our way into the Alligator River Marina, we're ready to melt.We refuel at the same price as offered by Swan's Point and settle into a slip for the night.The manager takes me to task for taking the dog into the laundry room.I take her to task for not having a working pumpout machine.We go around a few times with no one getting any satisfaction.I'm a strong proponent of state laws which require these people to shut down their fuel pumps when their pumpout machines fail.I am so weary of being told that the pumpout isn't working.They are lying.They just don't want to be bothered with an unpleasant task.It is really amusing that any state or municipal pumpout facility functions well day in and day out, but any for profit gas dock can't keep one going at all.

 

Tuesday, July 6, 1999, Alligator River to Great Bridge, VA.This being our first morning at a dock, the Amberjack gets a thorough washdown to get rid of the last vestiges of the Oriental fireworks.We load up on water and get back on the way north.Temperatures are predicted to be real heat wave levels today, so I insist on running the generator and both air conditioners to protect us.Albemarle Sound can be a nasty body of water, but this morning, it is like a paved parking lot.The wind is almost still and the only air comes from the boat's forward movement.By late morning, we've crossed the sound and entered the wide mouth of the North River.It is mid morning, and the temperature is soaring.The entire eastern seaboard is caught in a massive heat wave.For the first time, I hook up the computer at the lower station.It is cool and dry, but there is no practical seating, and my bad back soon complains.I'll need to work on this if we're to use this station.Visibility is quite good at speeds up to 8 knots, where we usually cruise, but it is simply foolish to run from down here when on plane.You can't see anything.

 

We work our way up the North River and into the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.By 4:00 pm, we're approaching Great Bridge, We would have a 45 minute wait if we were to go through the lock, and I'm weary so we stop at the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night.This is a good stop, as the marina has a courtesy car and the immediate area carries all types of stores and services.

 

Wednesday, July 7, 1999, Great Bridge to Hampton, VA.We're both sorely in need of a haircut.Since the Atlantic Yacht Basin has courtesy cars available, we take a break and get the haircuts.We return to the boat around 10 o'clock.The Great Bridge bridge opens once an hour, in coordination with the lock just north of it.I notice a little after ten that the bridge is open and there is no boat passing.I call the bridge to see if there is a problem.There is.The bridge is broken and the maintenance crew is working on it.The next opening is slated for noon.As we approach 11 am, I call the bridge again to see if there will be an opening.The bridge is OK,so we get the lines off and go through.The lock drops a couple of feet to the current Chesapeake level and we start the gauntlet of bridges leading into Norfolk.All goes well until we reach the last bridge.the Jordan bridge.The railroad bridge just north announces that they are closing for a train.We float around for about ten minutes until the train passes.Both bridges open and we proceed to Norfolk.

 

Mile zero on the ICW is passed without notice and we grind north.I had hoped to make the York River, but the delays have made for a long day and I'm getting weary.We cross Hampton Roads and enter the harbor at Hampton, Va.The Downtown Hampton Public Pier is a first class marina in the heart of a completely restored small city.There are numerous shops, restaurants, banks, and other businesses.The Virginia Air & Space Museum is within a block.

 

Thursday, July 8, 1999 Hampton VA.to Tangier Island, VA.We have a gentle breeze out of the west and the vast open area of Chesapeake Bay is relatively quiet.We go on autopilot and relax for the first time underway since the Bahamas.Early afternoon brings us to Tangier Island.We tie up at the marina, which charges $20 per night, including electricity.Marilyn wants to go out for a crabcake dinner so we get ready to go out.While we're waiting, a nice crab boat putts in to the dock ahead of us.We're tied to an L shaped dock and a strong current is flowing down on the Amberjack's bow.The crab boat is docked inshore of us on the cross current part of the L.Young men start gathering on the boat, some carrying sport tote bags.I presume they are going off to Crisfield for a game.

 

Our bow is extending out beyond the corner of the L.The anchors and anchor davits extend even further out.When the team is assembled, the boat operator decides to run the boat forward to swing the stem upstream and then back out past our pulpit at high speed.He almost gets away with it.But the anchor davit catches the foremost upright on the Crab boat.We hear the noise, but hardly feet the impact.The upright is ripped away and the canopy drops on the men on deck.The same davit which was bent to port in Hilton Head is now bent to starboard.

 

Friday, July 9,1999, Tangier to Solomons, MD.We've picked up some wind through the night, and I am concerned that the trip up the bay may be rough.We rig for rough running, but when we get on the Bay, we have 2‑foot following seas.We pull into Solomons and take a slip at Calvert Marina for the night.

 

Saturday, July 10, 1999, Solomons, Md.to the Magothy River.In the morning I finish the installation of the water maker.The start up goes well, but it takes a couple of calls to the company in Ft. Lauderdale to understand how the thing works.I can understand how r/o watermakers have gotten such a bad reputation.It's not that they are so hard to maintain, it's that no one can communicate the operation to the customer.Once the pressure is set properly, we are making fresh and clean water at the rate of 6 gallons per hour.

 

The cruise up the Bay takes us to Annapolis Harbor.I should know better than to go into Annapolis on a Saturday in July, but I do anyway.Every mooring is taken, and there is a nasty harbor swell from boats out in the river.We, decide to forego the Harbor and to head further north.We go under the bridge and head west to the Magothy River.Shortly, we're anchored in Scillery Bay behind Dobbins Island.The waters are much quieter than Annapolis, and the price is much better.

 

While walking Duchess, I am saddened to note that the heavy visits to the island have exacted a toll.People who should know better have been climbing up the path across the narrow island.They have cut a pathway which can only lead to splitting the island in two.Another environmental disaster.If the owners don't step in and throw people out, I fear the people will destroy the island.Either way, our access to the shore has a grim future.

 

Sunday, July 11, 1999, Magothy River to Middle River.Morning comes with that kind of calm that makes one think one is ashore.We do the usual chores and head out the Magothy.The Bay is calm and we head roughly north.The big question is, there is a long spoils area that neatly blocks our course.Spoils areas are not charted as to depth.so they can be two feet deep, or ten feet above water.What to do.When we reach the line of the area, I cut the throttles back and ease in.The depth finder stays fixed on 13 feet.We chug across at seven knots, with my hand on the throttles.If it shows any sign of shoaling, I'll be out of there! We creep across without a single deviation in depth.

 

Clear of the spoils area, we go on to the entrance to the Back River.This entrance is well marked, and has a lighthouse to the east as well.The chart notes a depth of seven feet throughout the project. But shortly after entering the channel, we are down to 2 feet on the depth finder.This is panic level for us.The depth finder doesn't read in inches.so 2 feet means you are nearly aground or you are really aground.I go down to one engine and keep my fingers crossed.It seems like an hour, but we are through the channel and the depth gets deeper again.We make our way over to the northeast from the Back River to the Middle River.

 

The marina we're looking for is Bowley's Point marina.The ads look great.Swimming pool, ships store,

etc., etc., I call the place on the advertised VHF channel and get no answer.We go in to the fuel dock and eventually are referred to a volunteer member of the marina.Our request for a pumpout is met with the standard reply.It isn't working.No further explanation.He gets us a slip and helps us to tie up.It is when I try to tip him that we find that he is a volunteer.

 

We soon find that there are drawbacks to large marinas in this area.Everything is as advertised, but it is a full quarter mile of dock from our boat to the shore.Duchess has to keep her legs crossed for a long, long walk before sniffing any grass.She didn't have to wait this long when we were motoring her two miles up the river behind Edisto Island.

 

The reason for coming to Middle River is to see Leigh Ann's and Michael's new house about a dozen miles away.Leigh Ann picks us up and we go for the tour.The house is very nice on a nice plot in a good area.

 

Monday, July 12, 1999 Middle River.Leigh Ann has invited us to dinner so we stay over for another night.The house is beautiful and the dinner is great.We get some errands done and arrive back at the boat late.

 

Tuesday, July 13,1999, Middle River to Inner Harbor, Baltimore.We leave the wonderful marina, after confirming once again that the pumpout isn't working.But if we wanted fuel of course,those pumps are working well.We travel up the Middle River to another advertised haven for visiting yachtsmen.This one is at the head of the river and does have a working pumpout.The cost is the usual five dollars, and we are able to operate it ourselves, so we're able to get a good long flush of the tank, something we haven't had for a long time.The only problem is the water depth.We're back in the 2‑foot range.It is so thin that I back out rather than try to turn around.

 

The trip to Baltimore is lovely.No wind, no traffic, and just a nice ride.It is marred only by a very inconsiderate tug driver who comes roaring out of the no wake zone and traps me with nowhere to go.The wake is more violent than anything the Gulf Stream threw at us.Nothing broke, which kind of disappointed me, for I would have sent Moran (or is that Moron?) Company a bill.

 

When we arrive, the question is where will we stay for the night.Inner Harbor East is nice, but rather pricey. We can anchor off the trade center but that means one of us has to stay with the boat.Also, it is going to be hot, so we go in to the Baltimore Town Dock.

 

Wednesday, July 14, 1999, Inner Harbor.Marilyn goes off with Leigh Ann to do some trial fitting on the wedding gown.I take a walking tour of Light Street and the block market there.

 

Thursday, July 15, 1999, Inner Harbor to Saint Michaels.Another lovely quiet morning.We leave the inner harbor and travel across the Chesapeake to Kent Narrows.We're in hopes that we'll find the Sieberts' condo slip empty.They should be at the Mainship Rendezvous in Newport.But the slip has a boat in it.A mutual acquaintance tells us that the Sieberts and the Bauers have taken slips at Inner Harbor East and Ken has rented his slip out.

 

A short wait for the bridge and we head down Eastern Bay to St.Michaels.We renew our membership and get a slip at the Chesapeake Bay maritime Museum.They have slip reservations this year, and we're unable to get the slip we want.But we find an alternate that is even better.Just inside the arm of the face bulkhead, it has one 50‑ampere power outlet.With a hot spell ahead for the next several days, it is really great to have both air conditioners running.Others tie up and look longingly at our power, but we've been there before and all we can offer is sympathy.

 

Friday, July 16, 1999 through Sunday, July 18, 1999, St. Michaels.We take a short vacation from cruising, It is interesting to watch the boats come and go, and to wander around the museum.We do a little shopping and a little laundry.I get back on my feet and do the first real jogging since my back problem.Itís perhaps 4 miles of walking with 7 minutes of running interlaced.It doesn't seem to give me any bad effects.So I'll try to expand this activity.I have been doing extensive back exercises and the pain has been diminishing steadily.It is a big drain on my time, but I guess I'll have to spend the time if I want to have a normal life.

 

Monday, July 19, 1999, St.Michaels to Swan River, Rock Hall.The laundry is done, the holding tank is pumped, and the water tank is filled.Then we are off for points north.A cool front has passed over the area and the cruising is really pleasant.I'm almost sorry that we don't have far to go.

 

It has been years since we've been in Rock Hall.We go inside the jetty and travel around the ring‑shaped harbor in a clockwise direction.There are plenty of nice marinas and restaurants, but nothing that we really need.After four days at dock, we're ready to have a night out.We leave the harbor and head north to Swan River.Here, there are more marinas and a couple of thousand boats.Some of the marinas look like they could use the business, but we turn to the north and drop the anchor.It takes two tries, but when the Guardian takes hold, it is in for the night, There is a little beach off a primeval wood.The route to the beach is choked with grass, and I have to stop the little outboard a couple of times to clean the prop.The night is so still and dark that it is hard to believe that I am on a boat anchored in a river.

 

Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Rock Hall to Chesapeake City.Morning is just as quiet as last night.We get underway and take an easy run north.A little chop builds between Pooles Island and Turkey Point, but nothing like what we've experienced before.Soon, we're in the river and then in the C&D Canal.We're getting low on fuel, so we want to make a stop at Sheaffers before tucking in to Engineers Cove.But when we approach the highway bridge, there is a patrol boat sitting in the current just where I want to go.I make a wide turn around him and pull in to the fuel dock.

 

People all around us are staring up at the bridge.Turns out there is a troubled soul up there who is threatening to jump off the bridge.Traffic is stopped on both sides of the bridge, and many people are trapped there, waiting on the whim of a troubled personality.Much to the credit of the human race, there is only one cry of "JUMP! " I pump a couple of hundred gallons of diesel fuel while the drama plays out.The suicide subject eventually climbs back over the fence, and there is a scattered round of applause, more for the authorities than for the subject.

 

We cross the canal and enter Engineer's Cove.There is a spot at the bulkhead and we tie up for the night.Its been a good day, and we decide to celebrate by having an ice cream cone after dinner.There is a small shop right near the bulkhead, so I go over there.It costs me 4 dollars for two tiny cones with two stingy dips of chocolate and vanilla.When I was a kid, I got more than this for a nickel!

 

It is quiet but quite warm, so I put the generator to work and soon we're in cool comfort.

 

Wednesday, July 21, 1999, Chesapeake City to Forked River.I'm up as early as I can drag this ancient hulk out of bed, There is the usual morning dew, and just the hint of fog across the canal, The dog is walked and the other myriad things done, and we pull out into the stream.We get up on plane and head east.After six miles or so, we run into a wall of fog, It is too dense to run at high speed, so I slow down and turn on the radar.If this continues, it will put a big hole in my plan to get to Cape May before the Delaware Bay gets nasty.As we near the eastern end of the canal, we run out of the fog just as quickly as we ran into it.The Delaware River is quiet when we enter it, and the steam cloud above the nuclear plant looks like it is stationary.But when we get abreast of the cooling tower, I can see that it is moving to the northwest, indicating a southeast wind.The wind is not presently strong, and the ebbing current is still building.But I know this bay well enough to know that it will not be fun out here in a couple of hours, Ship John Shoal goes by, then Cross Elbow Ledge and we're at Miah Maid Ledge.Here.we angle to the east and run the 13 miles to the jetty at the Cape May Canal.

 

We run slowly through the canal and out Cape May Inlet.Its only 10:00 and we can still make Atlantic City if the ocean is quiet.It is quiet, and we get back up on plane.When we pass Atlantic City,the ride is quiet enough to go on outside, and we keep on.Off Beach Haven, we slow down and I run the watermaker in sea water for the first time.There is a little hiccup when the fuse holder which I'd installed melts, but the test goes well, and I drink a glassful of the Atlantic,

 

We enter Barnegat Inlet and cross Oyster Creek Channel, dodging more boats than we've seen since April.Forked River is the same as ever, and we tie up at Rick's Marina.The trip is over.Its taken 36 days to come north, just twice as long as it took to go south, but it was a more enjoyable trip.From FortLauderdale to Forked River, the engines ran for 170.5 hours and burned 1077 gallons of fuel.This works out to be an average of 6.3 gallons per hour for both engines.Fuel cost was $ 985.56 and included 89 gallons burned in the generator.