Headed North on the ICW – Day 1
By 5am Matt, Simon (the captain we hired to help us navigate back) and I were on I-95 heading south. We ended up renting a Town & Country mini van for the one way drive down allowing us to leave the car in NC and sail back. At first we were very resistant to the whole concept of the mini van but let me tell you… with enough room to pack up half our belongings AND seat 3 comfortably for a six hour drive, we are now believers.
We arrived in New Bern, NC around noon, excited to see the boat and to begin prepping her for the trip up the Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW, back to Annapolis. At the marina, we had quite the little reception with other owners stopping by and congratulating us on buying the boat. Everyone was a little surprised that we were planning to head out later that day and weren’t staying longer to prepare for the trip. Unfortunately we both have jobs waiting for us Monday morning and needed to get underway ASAP in order to make the 4 day trip back. Maybe in a few years when we fully transition to the cruiser lifestyle we’ll be able to linger longer.
Dave & Beth, the previous owners, had contacted one of their cruising friends in the area to help us return the rental car. How nice was that? One thing we’ve realized about the cruising community is that everyone is always willing to help you out.
After dropping off the car at the airport, and a quick stop to our new favorite spot, West Marine, we were back at the boat and able to get underway around 4pm. With limited daylight, we were able to cruise up to Oriental, where we dropped anchor for the night. Unfortunately we were only able to make about 20 miles due to unfavorable currents and winds. Hoping we make better progress tomorrow if we’re going to make it back to MD by Saturday.
Headed North on the ICW – Day 2
Happy Summer! We were hoping that, it being the summer solstice today and thus the longest day of the year, that we’d be able to cover some significant ground, err, water, today. Unfortunately, not so much. Opposing currents and strong wind from the North were working against us once again. In fact, the Neuse river was so rough this morning, that I had to huddle down below and try to sleep or risk loosing my breakfast over the side of the boat. Repeatedly. It was horrible. Dramamine and/or ginger WILL become regular staples on this boat. Fortunately the rough seas subsided once we got into the narrow man made canal that connects us to the Alligator River. That almost sounds worse than the Neuse, so fingers crossed that we make good headway before stopping again for the night.
Overall, the boat has been running great. We’ve been motoring constantly for the past two days to make up for the lack of wind to sail. She’s been a consistent performer, if not a little slow due to her size, which is alright by us. We pretty much have the galley put away and have started making quite the little home for ourselves. We have a few ideas that we want to do, but have vowed to wait to buy anything (unless it’s absolutely necessary!) for the first month or two to give us some time to adjust and figure out what we actually need, and not what we just want. One thing’s for sure.. we’re going to have a BLAST doing it (save for those times like this morning. I was definitely NOT having a blast hovering over the blue Lowes bucket).
Around 6pm we decided to anchor up for the night in the calm river, rather than continue on and get beat again by the wind & waves in the Albermarle Sound. We were treated to an air show by two Navy fighter jets on practice runs down the coast. Bettcha they get back to Norfolk faster than we will. Only 100 more miles to go, then another 150 to Annapolis! Hoping to get an early start tomorrow so we can get back at it!
Headed North on the ICW – Day 3
Today we were up at 4:30am and underway an hour later. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds considering we went to bed, exhausted, around 8pm last night. The longest day of the year and we went to bed the earliest we have in months.
This morning I guided the boat as Matt pulled up the anchor. It wasn’t totally smooth, and I think I may have ran over the chain once or twice, but the anchor came up and we were proud that we took the first step in creating our own little routine together. Matt also had his first go at docking the boat when we stopped in Coinjock, NC for fuel. He did a great job considering the wind was pushing us right into the dock… he only bumped it instead of slamming straight into it which I thought we were going to do. Good thing I had put a fender right where he was headed to soften the impact… which then promptly fell off the life line because I hadn’t tied my knot properly on the one side. He refilled the gas while I refilled the water tanks. Both were successful and without incident. We even managed to snag some snacks from the small marina store where we grabbed some bottled water for $10 a case. Talk about premium pricing!
We spent the majority of the day organizing our stuff and trying to make a proper home for ourselves. This boat has so much storage!! Funny, cause we spent the past few months getting rid of most off of our stuff only to realize that we have more than enough storage. Ha! Oh well, it feels good to start fresh. We cleaned, organized and made note of a few little things we would need to fix once we got back home.
Meanwhile, our captain, Simon, has been busting out funny sayings the whole trip, like this gem… What’s the difference between yacht owners and boat owners? A yacht owner says “Hey, let’s go”, and jumps onboard and goes. A boat owner has to constantly work at it to make it go. Looks like we’re at it already.
Headed North on the ICW – Day 4
Because of the lack of wind and opposing currents we have been encountering this trip, we decided to do an overnighter last night to cover more ground. We all stayed up until we passed thru Norfolk and started the shifts around 11:30. Matt went to bed first and it was up to Simon and I to exit the city limits via the shipping channel that leads you out to the Atlantic or up north to the mouth of the Chesapeake. I must admit it was a bit unnerving! Markers and other boats are not easy to identify by the untrained eye until they are right up on you, especially when you’re tired and can’t make out what you’re seeing.
We had quite the experience with a tug boat pushing a large barge out to sea around 1:30am. He came up on us from behind, flashing his flood lights for us to move out of his way. It was basically the equivalent of approaching a slow car in the left lane on a deserted highway and riding his ass until he got over a lane instead of just going around him. Meanwhile, because we were at an area where the inland water met with the open water, the waves were really knocking us around and were even coming up over the front of the boat thru the trampoline. If our parents could have seen this they would have been freaking out for sure. After a harrowing 60 minutes, we were headed north up the Bay and back in calm, open waters with nothing more than channel markers to look out for. Simon went to bed and Matt joined me around 1:30 where we sailed together at the helm for another few hours before Simon resurfaced and our shift was over. We passed out like babies around 4am with relief and a renewed confidence after experiencing our first overnight.
The rest of the day was a nice and calm trip up the Chesapeake. God it felt great to be back in familiar waters again where you could scan the GPS for land waypoints and get a sense of where you’re at and how far till we’re home.
During the last leg of the trip, we got the boat back in order from the chaos of the overnight and washed her down a bit. We were able to put the genoa in and cruised up the Bay at a steady 7 knots with the winds and tide finally in our favor. At one point we registered at 10 knots while surfing down a wave! A far cry from the 4 knots we were doing most of the way in the ICW.
We finally pulled into our slip in Annapolis at around 10pm Saturday night. It feels so great to finally be home and to officially get this adventure started. We got things situated and hooked back into the grid (shore power and water) and passed out, exhausted and happy.