Friday, May 30, 2008

May 24, 2008 . . . SONATA arrives at Ocean Marine, Portsmouth, VA; the beginning

Approaching Ocean Marine the cheering section lined the seawall to greet SONATA; what a beautiful sight!

SONATA passes Ocean Marine and turns to "pass-in-review" in front of the crowd on the seawall; the pendant (made by SONATA's daughter-in-law, Pat) is flying from the mast whisker pole as are the signal flags arranged as prescribed.

The SONATA fans, Pat in the forefront, salute SONATA as she passes the seawall on the way to Ocean Marine's entrance.

Bonnie maneuvers SONATA down the fairway, on its final approach, to dock in front of the "Welcome Committee".

SONATA alongside at Ocean Marine in Portsmouth, Virginia, the loop completed, SONATA's wake has been crossed, and Bonnie and Charlie are greeted by so many friends, relatives, and fellow boaters. A wonderful and joyous day!

Food, drinks, and greetings exchanged on the dock; a great reception.

Friends on the dock.

The torn and tattered white looper burgee has been taken off the bow, the loop completed. The GOLD American Great Loop Cruisers Association burgee which signifies completion of the loop is now flying from the mast spreader. This location means we have completed the loop but are no longer "on-the-loop." This summer SONATA will be exploring the Chesapeake Bay; 2009 the Down East Loop is planned. This entry marks the end of Book 1, a book of many chapters. Book 2 will continue on this blog.

May 9-23, 2008 . . . Washington, North Carolina . . to almost home

"Little" Washington, North Carolina. Carolina Wind Yacht Center for ten days so that SONATA may prepare for arrival at Ocean Marine. A small marina on the Tar River where Route 17 crosses. West Marine just a block away . . . and in between the marina and West Marine is the best ice cream store there can be.

Bonnie's parents, Leighton and Joyce Croom, who live in Robersonville, near Little Washington, are now aboard SONATA for the final run. We proceed down the Tar River toward Belhaven, North Carolina.

From Little Washington to Belhaven, Dowry Creek Marina, SONATA proceeded in a generally Northerly direction which was good due to strong winds out of the South and Southwest, some 20-25 knots. A nice swift ride to the marina before the thunderstorms arrived.

After clearing the Pamlico River / Alligator River canal SONATA approaches the Alligator River bridge which opened upon SONATA's request.

Out the Alligator River and into the Albemarle and Roanoke Sounds to Roanoke Island and Manteo. SONATA moored on a "T" head across from the ELIZABETH II, a 69' barque built by hand and moored at theh Fort Raleigh Historic Site.

Out of Manteo in the early AM SONATA is on its way to Coinjock. Coinjock is one long pier where they slide as many boats in as possible. A good marina and a very good place to stop and eat.

SONATA proceeding North toward the Currituck Sound is followed by HENRY'S JOURNEY, whose captain, Fred Pflaum, a retired attorney from Florida, is off the complete the Down East Loop Trip (begin at New York City, up the Hudson to Canada, the St. Lawrence out to the Atlantic, down the East Coast of Nova Scotia/Maine/New England, Long Island Sound to New York City) which we plan for 2009.

North on the North River toward the North Landing Swing Bridge, Centerville Turnpike Swing Bridge and the Great Bridge Bridge and Lock. The water is so very calm; a beautiful day.

HENRY'S JOURNEY, still behind us, caught this picture as Leighton navigated SONATA toward Great Bridge. Charlie and Bonnie on the last leg toward completing the Great American Loop.

SONATA's last lock. Having been through nearly 120 locks in the past twelve months, some as big as 1200' long, 110' wide, and a lift or drop of over 95', the Great Bridge Lock will move SONATA some 1 to 2 feet so that it may proceed into the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River.

An afternoon, evening, and morning in the "Pool" which is off the Dismal Swamp SONATA is now dressed, decorated, and ready to proceed to Ocean Marine.

Back in home waters we are back with the familiar tug traffic just past the Jordan Bridge.

Just past the Jordan Bridge, to Port, is one of our aircraft carriers in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. We are back with the Navy and minutes away from Ocean Marine.

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 1 - 9, 2008 . . . Charleston Tour & on to Washington, North Carolina

Arriving in Charleston we tied up inside the Mega-Dock, the long face dock that runs from the center of the picture to the top righthand corner. We were located about where that boat is shown coming from top right to bottom left . . . it was a long bike ride just to get off the dock.

We then rode our bikes down to Market Street and signed up for the Carriage Tour. Cannot recommend the Carriage Tour to anyone. You pay for the Tour, then after you are seated, captive in the carriage, the "City of Charleston" using a bingo ball machine that has only nine balls, selects the tour that your carriage will present. You may want the historic waterfront and receive the college tour . . . as we did. You could ride every day and never get the tour you wanted, it was a gamble and we lost. We later took an auto tour as a part of our Plantation Tour . . . and we rode our bikes everywhere!

The Market Street area sells all sorts of items for Charleston including the sweetgrass baskets that are woven by the Gullah, the low country africian-americans.

Fort Sumter can be seen from the Battery in Historic Charleston. The Fort was built by the United States after the War of 1812 and was still unfinished when Major Robert Anderson moved his 85-man garrison from Fort Moultrie, which Anderson felt was indefensible, to Fort Sumter the day after Christmas, 1860. April 11, 1861, Brig.Gen Pierre G.T. Beauregard, commander of the Confederate Troops at Charleston, demanded that his former West Point artillery instructor, Anderson, surrender the fort. Anderson refused. On the 12th Beauregard opened fire and by that afternoon Anderson surrendered. No one on either side had been killed during the engagement. On the 14th Major Anderson and his garrison departed the fort and boarded a ship for transport to New York.

For the next adventure we were off to Middleton Place, a Charleston Plantation.

On our way to Middleton we passed through Magnolia Plantation which also had beautiful grounds.

The grounds at Middleton Place were magnificant. This is the Reflection Pool which was positioned behind the gardens.

The front guarden and lawn rolling down to the Ashley River.

The rice mill pond on the south side of the lawn and residence.

Plantation peacock showing his grand feathers.

Some kind sailors passing through Charleston were unable to take full advantage of the tour tickets they purchased and gave them to us. We then the next day toured the Heyward-Washington House - 1772 and the gardens.

Bonnie was able to relax in the garden for a few minutes while we waited for the house tour to commence.

After church services at the Citadel Square Baptist Church and lunch at Justine's Kitchen; Charlie prepares notes and reviews the weather in preparation for Monday's underway time.

Sunrise over Charleston as we go with the tide, outbound the Ashley River.

An overnight at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club where SONATA got a drink (some 319 gallons of diesel) and we rested, we were then off to North Carolina waters.

A long day, but one in which you could look from the ICW out through a sound into the Atlantic. We had nice winds from the South and a calm day for in excess of 100 miles of travel.

There is sharing in the "driving" and some can complete their tasks with just a little easy "foot-work".

We cruised past Camp Lejeune without incident.

We anchored at Swansboro and the next day we were off for Beaufort, North Carolina.

Swansboro to Beaufort, an overnight, met more loopers starting the loop; then we were off early the next day, the 9th, for "Little" Washington, North Carolina. Only a few hundred miles from completion of our loop trip and Chapter One in the cruising experience.

Friday, May 02, 2008

April 15 - May 1, 2008 . . . Jacksonville to Charleston

Eleven days at Sadler Point Marina, in a slip 6" wider than the beam of SONATA . . . but under a cover, i.e., in a shed dock, was great. Charlie had time to complete brightwork, and do other needed jobs. Great to be back on the water and on our way North as we pass the AMERICAN EXPLORER. We turn North up the ICW and the freighter continues out to sea.

After Jacksonville the first stop was at Amelia Island, Fernandino Beach, Florida. The last place in Florida before we enter Georgia. A very nice and quaint town with many places to eat and shops to visit. We found that lunch was best at the marina restaurant.

Walking up the street past the shops we found this guy standing in a doorway. He was wired so that as you approached his detector noted your presence and he began to shake. He acted, looks . . . like all of us will is a few (hopefully, many) more years. He was so cute.

Departing Florida we crossed St. Mary's River and passed the King's Bay Submarine Base were some six trident-class submarines are based. There were two patrol boats present to make sure we did not attack or get too close. We turned out of the Cumberland Sound and continued north on the ICW.

In preparation for the run up the ICW the latest copy of Dozier's (he lives and has a marina in Deltaville, Virginia) Waterway Guide was obtained and it accurately describes the shallow waters we will encounter along the ICW. This picture is just one of the many places where the sand/mud bank of the ICW is displayed in passing.

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel, formerly the clubhouse where Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Pulitzer enjoyed croquet on the front lawn and an escape from their world. The State of Georgia acquired the entire island in 1947 and it is now open to all of us. We enjoyed a very nice brunch on our way to Savannah.

North of Jekyll Island we entered the Brunswick River on our way to an anchorage. We were greeted by the United States Coast Guard, Unit 057A, with Petty Officers Waldorff, Jones, and Spence. They boarded to conduct a safety inspection. Bonnie kept SONATA on a steady course and slow speed, they boarded, were very courteous and considerate, found everything in order and thanked us for being Coast Guard Certified Captains, thanked Charlie for his 22 years in the Navy, and they were on their way in about 15-20 minutes. Very nice young people. We anchored just south of St. Catherine's Sound in Walberg Creek after a 96 mile day. A beautiful sunrise over the entrance to the sound.

In Savannah we docked at the Hyatt Regency Hotel dock which is right in the historic district. We then took a trolly car ride through the city to hear about all the historic sites. There have been many movies made here such as "Forrest Gump", "The Legend of Bagger Vance", and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". All of the movie spots were pointed out as we toured. The waterfront was full of boutiques, restaurants, pubs, and galleries.

The Downtown Marina was a great place to stay, no wakes. There are bridges bordering Beaufort to the North and South and on each is a sign warning that violation of the no wake zone may result in a $1,025 fine and 30 days in one of South Carolina's historic jails.

There were many beautiful old homes in Beaufort and we enjoyed riding around on a self-created tour.

The Spanish Moss covered live oak trees covered most of the streets in the historic district. We enjoyed our bikes again as we have so many times before. They are great, except when Charlie has a flat. Today he had two....

At the other end of our dock a Grand Banks 42 Europa came in showing the looper flag. We went down to greet them after returning from one of our bike outings and met Neil, Alan, Dennis (the boat captain) Pixie, and Margo. They are starting the loop and just commenced their adventure in Vero Beach, Florida. Neil and Pixie are from England, Alan and Margo from Canada, and Dennis is USA. They wanted to hear all about our adventures.

Departing Beaufort at 0630 we passed one more historic home, the home used in the Gleen Close, Kevin Kline . . . The Big Chill. Beaufort, such a great place to visit!