Friday, June 17, 2011

Back in The Ditch and Then Some

The Holiday weekend at the Cape Lookout Bight was like a water version of Times Square. Fascinating, but you wouldn't want it 24/7. Lots of fishing boats and water skiers buzzing around.

After leaving The Bight it was 81 miles to Belhaven and then another long day to the North River at ICW mile 60. Our last day on the ICW saw us through a very nasty and shoaling Currituck Sound with winds in the mid 20s, then 9 restricted bridges and a lock before settling down in Portsmouth at ICW mile 0. The channel in the Currituck Sound had enough depth, it just didn't always follow the markers with precision.

While anchored at mile 60, we were attacked by midges. We are talking plague proportions. As we entered the cockpit just after 5 am, it sounded like someone was running a chainsaw. It was well before sunup, but we had to don our sunglasses to have any chance to keep our eyes open without having midge pupils.

The term midge is somewhat generic, but we will call ours Martian Midges. That's because they secrete a green dye that will not wash off of gel coat. They are basically lazy mosquitoes without a needle to suck your blood. While a mosquito stands upright, these guys sort of rest on their bellies--like I said, lazy. Because they don't eat they only live a few days. They don't even care enough to try to escape certain death, they just lay there with a kill me sign on their back. Their duty is done already anyway--collectively, they've left green all over the boat with millions of smelly corpses.

They were inside our rolled up enclosure, on top of our cushions, under our cushions, the floor was completely covered, the bimini and dodger were covered, the dinghy was totally covered. We are talking millions.

Apparently they are males and they arrive in swarms. No duh. Next time we will anchor next to other boats with the hope of spreading them around more fairly--might even raft up. Naw.

With our sunglasses on and our mouths closed, we got underway as soon as was possible. While I helmed, Lisa spent 4 1/2 hours just to get the cockpit sort of clean. We threw the rolled up sections of our enclosure into the dinghy and would deal with them later. Sailboats can't afford much in the way of delays on this section of the ICW because of all the restricted bridges and the lock. At the end of the day one of the bridges stays closed for 2 hours for rush hour, so you don't want to be late.

When we arrived at Portsmouth, I dropped the dinghy in the water and took off with our rolled up sections of enclosure. It was like a Saturday Night Live skit. Me going in circles hoping no one is seeing the ten million midges swarming out of the dinghy while I bang on it to encourage their departure. It took me 2 hours to clean the inside of the dinghy and to rid the enclosure of midges. Lisa and I spent most of the following day cleaning the rest of the boat and the canvas. A couple of days of sun took the stain off the gel coat.

Lisa would rather go around Cape Hatteras, Cape Horn, and the Cape of Good Hope on consecutive days than to see another Martian Midge.

On Sunday, the Gay Pride bunch had their amps turned all the way up so that Norfolk, Portsmouth and surrounding areas would be sure to hear how proud they are.

Our next stop was Fishing Bay in Deltaville, Va. We spent a few very hot and humid days there with the temperatures approaching 100.

Deltaville was hit by a tornado on April 16th of this year, taking with it 28 homes and cutting this church in half. It also snapped off and uprooted many trees.

After leaving Deltaville, we anchored on the beautiful Mill Creek off of the Great Wicomico River, then anchored on St. Leonard's Creek 10 miles up the Patuxent River past Solomons. During the week the latter is quite beautiful and restful, but we arrived on a Saturday. Not just any Saturday, but Poker Run Saturday for Cigarette boats.

Unlike most sailors, I don't hate those guys. If they can afford the fuel, more power to them. I'm sure they've saved up their carbon credits.

I'm a bit surprised they are allowed their high speed thrills on narrow creeks teeming with water skiers and other innocents. It kind of feels like Russian Roulette except the gun has 5 bullets and only one blank.

While we were on Lake Texoma, a similar venue saw 2 boats collide when the hydraulic steering malfunctioned on one, causing it to T-bone the other boat, killing 2. These were pros with their semi trucks painted to match their hot rod boats.

We stayed one night at Solomons so that we could stop at Food Lion. The very convenient Woodburns grocery store is a casualty of the economy and out of business. They weren't part of the stimulus package.

The first half of our sail from Solomons to Annapolis was miserable. We were expecting light 5 knot winds and an easy motor trip against the tide. Instead it was 20 + on the nose. After making painful gains upwind, I needed to reef the genoa, but the furler jammed. We had to pull a U turn and run down wind to get it unjammed. When it's rough out, sailing down wind is sweet. Being a gentlemen has it's advantages. But by the time I got the furler unjammed we were below our start point at the mouth of the Patuxent. So we had to start all over.

The last half of the day, the winds died and the tide finally had mercy on us. We anchored in front of the Naval Academy and had a front row seat of several sailboat races. 

This is the wooden sailing vessel Bear. It's twin is called Bull.

After picking up a lot of supplies we had shipped to a mail service, we moved up the Severn River to Weems Creek which offers more protection. I get to see a skin doctor for the first time since leaving Texas. I'm so excited.

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