Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #56 Southbound Cruising

Computers—bah, humbug!! You can’t live with ‘em and you can’t live without ‘em! A strange sentiment considering this format to be sure, but you see, dear reader, we’ve just spent three days working to get our e-mail back to downloading into and uploading from our laptop. Some devilish cyber-space bugaboo was standing in our way, and we’re still not sure why or how. But with some technical know-how and a little bit of magic Jim was able to get this thing functional again. In the three years we’ve been cruising the computer has stalled us more times than any other piece of equipment. This time, however, as aggravating as the last three days have been, it’s not just the laptop that has caused our delay in leaving Deltaville. We’ve had the longest stretch of miserable weather that we’ve yet had in our cruising life. The sun hasn’t shined (other than for a pitifully few rays) in almost two weeks, and rain and drizzle have fallen during much of that time. The forecast indicates that improvement is imminent, however (it had to end sometime!), so we hope to be leaving the marina tomorrow. We probably won’t get away from the anchorage until the next day, but we’re eager to start south and put the sweatshirt weather of the last several days behind us.

So this is sailing. We’d almost forgotten how it feels—the sails full on a fresh breeze, the cockpit atilt on a comfortable reach, the dance over the swells at 7-9 knots. Such a joy it was to have a close to perfect day for our first out on the water in over three months. After another unexpected night in the marina because of strong breezes and a GPS that needed a last minute fix, we finally got away this morning. Deltaville Marina & Boatyard is a fine place to lay over for awhile, but we were definitely ready for a change of scene. The sun shone brightly all day as we made our way toward Norfolk—in the company of several other boats headed south. As we entered Hampton Roads we heard several announcements on the radio from an “Escort 2” asking boats to keep 500 yards clear of the navy vessel entering the harbor. When we saw that the vessel in question was a submarine, we were only too happy to oblige. We’re now at anchor at Hospital Point enjoying the lapping water, the quiet relaxation, and the smiling moon.

Chesapeake sailing
Sailing on the Chesapeake—chilly but fun!

Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. You know how it feels. You wake up cranky from too little sleep, and nothing is right with the world. Well, today started out that way. It was cold (so much for escaping sweatshirt weather), and the wind was bouncing the boat and rattling the rigging. Then the sun came up, and her glowing rays cast a whole different light on the day. The 3-mile dinghy ride upwind along the shipping channel called for several sweatshirt layers and full foul weather gear, but the trip back (planing on top of the water) was rather exhilarating. We also took advantage of the opportunity to have an intimate seafood lunch in Portsmouth, hoping that we’ll be traveling for the next couple of weeks and won’t have restaurant accessibility again for a while. This evening the anchorage is hosting a number of boats which are presumably headed south. We’ll see how many we end up traveling with tomorrow.

The day was a case of hurry-up-and-wait. We needed fuel and pump-out at the nearby marina before heading out this morning, but we had to wait for other boats to fuel up and leave before we could get in. When we finally left Norfolk we were about two hours behind our expected departure time. Then we had to wait for two bridges before entering the Virginia Cut, a route different from the Dismal Swamp Canal. We opted for a different scene as well as more depth. The Virginia Cut has only one lock to the Dismal Swamp Canal’s two, but there are also several more bridges—restricted bridges that require vessels to, you guessed it, wait for openings. But we finally left the bridges and bustle behind and are now anchored in a quiet, isolated river marsh called Blackwater Creek. We’re on our way.

Blackwater Creek
Blackwater Creek, VA

No bridges today—other than a couple of 65-ft. high rises, a real boon to both boaters and drivers. Just fifty miles of motoring. All in all, the Virginia Cut was easier on the nerves than the shallows of the Dismal Swamp Canal, but not nearly so pristine or primeval. We’re glad we got to experience both routes. We would have enjoyed a sail across the fifteen miles of Albemarle sound, but the 5-10 knots were on our nose. Little Alligator River is a pleasant anchorage this evening. We thought we might have the place to ourselves, but five other boats eventually followed us in. One arrived well after dark. We definitely didn’t envy their stress of following the ICW channel markers by spotlight and starlight.

We’re not happy to hear of Hurricane Wilma’s existence. We’ll keep a close ear and eye on her path over the next few days.

Finally, we got out of our sweatshirts and jeans today! We’re appreciating the warmer temps. They may not last for long, though, once the next front passes through. And that may correspond with Wilma’s passage. We’ll see. Tonight’s anchorage is at Belhaven, NC.

Warmer cruising
Warmer cruising on the ICW in NC

We’ve been at Whittaker Creek Yacht Harbor in Oriental, NC, since yesterday afternoon. We thought we might need to hole up in a marina to await Wilma’s passage, but she appears to be dawdling and destructing in Mexico still. So we’ll continue on tomorrow. The forecast indicates that we’ll get some hefty northerly winds in the next couple of days, but we can sit those out a little further south if need be. Or we could even make use of them to help us along. Stay tuned. And to friends and family in Florida, stay safe.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

P. S. Don’t forget to look up Alice’s book, Reaching a Far Horizon, at www.lulu.com!

Posted Saturday October 22, 2005

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