GOT CRABS?!

I think we’re finally getting a handle on this looping thing. My jitters are subsiding and the Captain and I seem to be settling into our roles. Our pace is probably a bit faster than we would like it to be, but we’re still learning how not to be Type A’s. Eventually we will just stop and smell the roses. Our dear friend Al called us this week and told us to slowwwwww down! Rob and I are both anxious to get north and enjoy the beauty of the Trent Severn Waterway, the Thirty Thousand Islands of Georgian Bay, and Lake Michigan. But Al is right, we need to put this thing in idle! 

Portsmouth was our first stop since saying adios to the ICW. By day, we walked the cute historic district and shopped at a farmers market. We stumbled upon the Commodore Theatre and saw the line outside. After inquiring, we found out that the Commodore is a restored 1945 motion picture theatre that now shows first run movies. So, we hopped in line and saw The Avengers. So glad we did…the Theatre was adorable. 

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The Commodore is on the National Register of Historic Places.
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View from the seats. Each table had a phone that you would use to order your drinks and food.

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After the movie, we saw the storm brewing and ran to the dinghy. Had to stop for L.O.V.E. though!fullsizeoutput_1fee

By night we were under a tornado warning. Honestly, I couldn’t make this up if I tried! There we were, anchored in the Elizabeth River, flanked by Portsmouth and Norfolk, with town sirens blaring, our weather apps dinging and the TV telling us to take cover. Take cover?? On a boat?? At anchor?? The weather channel said Portsmouth would be hit at 7:27pm and Norfolk at 7:29pm. So at 7:20pm, we donned our life jackets and waited. It was a spectacular lightning show with the loudest thunder! FORTUNATELY, the tornado never touched down where we were anchored!

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“Move to substantial structure”…that’s funny!IMG_7594

Hoping for the best…IMG_7590

After surviving the “almost” tornado, we began zigging and zagging our way through Chesapeake Bay and around the thousands of crap pots. They. Are. Everywhere! One thing I didn’t realize was the sheer size of the Bay. She is huge, beautiful and sometimes angry! The wind direction and wind speed, combined with waves is the difference between a calm and pleasant trip or a downright frightful one! We’ve had both! 

Mother’s Day was spent on the lower Eastern Shore in Cape Charles, Virginia. We found the local cidery, Busky Cider, and enjoyed a flight and some Battleship. I missed my mom and my girl so much, but the cider eased the pain!

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You sunk my battleship!

When in Chesapeake…

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Chicken leg, chicken neck and some squid oughta do the trick!

Viola!fullsizeoutput_1ff5

From Cape Charles, we headed to Deltaville, Virginia on the lower Western Shore. Deltaville was packed with loopers which made for a fun time. The marina had bikes and a courtesy car. We love it when marinas have amenities that make visiting easy. We biked to the Maritime Museum and used the courtesy car for provisioning. I knew this town wasn’t for me when Nancy from the marina office told me that even the Target was about an hour away!fullsizeoutput_1fcffullsizeoutput_1fe6

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Replica of the Watermen shoes.

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We have made it to ANOTHER state! Make that 6 states so far! Helloooooo Maryland! My brother, Mitch came onboard in Solomons Island, Maryland and cruised with us for 5 days. Solomons is a cute little seaside town with tons of marinas and good restaurants.

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Gettin’ a new Salty Crew!
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St. Peter’s Episcopal Church from 1889.

Loved the park-like setting at Spring Cove Marinafullsizeoutput_1fc3fullsizeoutput_1fc2

One of my favorite indulgences!

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Custard and water ice combined = heaven!

Mitch’s friends, Joanna and Terry, dropped him off at the marina. We had dinner and drinks and a lotta good laughs. Rumor had it that Mitch was a bit nervous about boating so liquid courage was needed for his boarding…lol!

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Terry, Joanna, Rob, Jill and Mitch.

 

We took a short trip up the Paxutent River, dropped anchor and dinghied to Sotterley’s Plantation. James Bowles built the original plantation home in 1703. During the 18th Century, the grounds grew to 7,000 acres. Using largely slave labor, it produced tobacco, wheat, corn, and cotton. The grounds were gorgeous and the history was fascinating. 

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Outside of a slave quarter.
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Inside of a slave quarter.
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Startling to read this.

We spent the night on the hook in St. Leonard’s Creek. It was *opening* day at the beach at Vera’s so of course we partook in drinking, eating and playing giant Jenga.

We cruised from the middle of the Western Shore to the middle of the Eastern Shore to our next port of Cambridge. What a sleepy little town. Charming but sleepy. Blink and you’ll miss it. 

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Had some delish Italian at Carmela’s Cucina. Love getting local knowledge that steers us away from the tourist traps!

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We did our own Ghost Tour!! I screamed like a little girl and ran out. Captain wouldn’t even step foot in the graveyard…hahahaha!

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From Cambridge, we headed to the Wye River.

Mitch on crew duty.

 

 

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Mitch NOT on crew duty…lol

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Captain’s night aboard Nautilus on the Wye River.

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One-on-one time with Captain Rob…lol!

 

It was a spectacular anchorage that provided a beautiful backdrop for sunset.

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Grateful for another amazing day!

Our last stop with my bro was St. Michael’s, Maryland. Fi-na-llyyyyyy I found a place I could call home! I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful and charming town and said over and over “I wanna live here”!

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Pulling into the St. Michael’s Marina.
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St. Michael’s Church
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If we’re being honest, there are days I feel like this!

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They say all good things must come to an end. Well this week with my brother was the trip that kept on giving. We were bringing my brother to Annapolis for *disembarkation” and had front row (literally) seats to the Blue Angels. Turns out the US Naval Academy was celebrating Commissioning Week. It is chock-full of activities all week long, culminating with graduation day on Friday.

We had such a fantastic time with my brother. It was sad to see him go. He’s already planning his next trip with us! He’s now experienced crew – he knows two new knots, how to work the windlass and how to attach the bridle.

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We have a one-day turnaround on the boat before my parents board. We’ll start cruising with them from Annapolis after a full tour of the city and then see where the Bay takes us. Stay tuned…

Over and out!

xo, The Admiral

WE’VE DITCHED THE DITCH…

Hi from Mile Marker ZERO!! We are anchored on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, VA. After 1123 statute miles, 37 days and 5 states, it’s bye-bye to the Ditch!! I have a love-hate relationship with the Intercoastal. While I absolutely love the diversity that each state offered (beautiful waterfront homes, the ospreys, cypress trees, the low country); the shoaling, slow zones and the wake from not-so considerate boaters, left me disenchanted. Time for us to now navigate the Chesapeake Bay. We are sooooooo looking forward to this part of the trip! My brother is coming aboard on Friday and a week later my parents will be onboard. Yay for family!!!

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Always some interesting sights on the ICW.

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I mentioned in my last post that in Southport we attended an ICW briefing. 50+ pages of navigational aids and hazardous areas to keep an eye out for.

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So much red!

Really, a marker on land?!?!

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Give the green a WIDE berth!

Skinny water after the Cape Fear River had us temporarily sitting on the bottom. Fortunately, we had a buddy boat behind us and their wake pushed us off. Phew!

It was so much fun to have boat buddies for a few days. Having some girl time is crucial for my sanity.

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Gary and Nancy on Summer Lynn and Steve and Kathy on United 771

We stayed at Homer Smith’s in Beaufort, North Carolina. We scored free laundry, a free loaner car and red snapper right from the fishing boats! What these small coastal towns lack in big tourism, they make up for in charm and southern hospitality.

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Rob found his new hangout! LOL…

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I’ve also been trying my hand at crabbing. So far the crabs are winning.

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Remember the skinny water and shoaling?!?! Well, we were pulling into the channel at Homer Smith’s, got distracted, and ended up out of the channel. Nothing good EVER happens when you stray out of the channel. We hit pretty hard and came to a complete stop! Tow Boat US was there in about 15 minutes. Captain Andy assessed the situation and said our starboard side was in 8 feet of water, but the port side was in 3.5 feet. No damage was done to the props, and we were easily pulled off! Another lesson learned.

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Captain Andy to the rescue!

One of our favorite stops so far was Cape Lookout Bight. We left the inlet at Beaufort, NC and headed south-east to the Southern Outer Banks. There are no marinas, restaurants or boat traffic. Just peace and quiet, beautiful beaches and wild horses. We dinghied around, walked the beaches and gave clamming a shot.

My nephew and his family live just outside of Elizabeth City in Hertford. We docked at Elizabeth City Docks and spent the day with Maury and Dawn and the kids. My heart was full…it was so great to hang with family and they took such good care of us!

Was hoping for a rose from the Rose Buddies…hmmmm, legend or myth?!?!

Couldn’t get enough of the kids!

Our last stop on the ICW was Coinjock Marina. Coinjock has a 1200 foot long dock. We counted 21 boats while we were there. You pull up to the wall and dock in front of the boat already there. Boats are docked stern to bow with literally no room in between. Fortunately, leaving in the morning isn’t a problem because everyone is leaving around the same time –  you just wait for the boat in front of you to pull out. In the span of 50 miles from Coinjock to Portsmouth, there were thirteen bridges and one lock to navigate, some opening only on the hour, so timing was everything!

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Stern to bow
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The dock lined with boats

Woohooo, see you later ICW.IMG_7485

Our first lock on the Loop. Only 140 more to go!IMG_7487-1

The Chesapeake awaits! We’ve got some really fun stops ahead. Will fill you all in soon on this beautiful bay and how the crabbing is going!

Over and out!

xo, The Admiral

THE DITCH

Hi everyone! Sorry to keep you guys all hanging! I bet some of you were wondering if we actually turned Nautilus around and went home. Not a chance! Stuff happens when you own a boat…just like owning a car or a land based home. We knew going into this adventure that flexibility and resilience were key. Despite some obstacles and rookie mistakes, we are having a fantastic time.

After 14 days…14 enjoyable, but somewhat frustrating days, Charleston is in our rear view mirror and we are back to cruising the Ditch (ICW) again. The boatyard in Charleston was amazing and actually pulled the boat a third time in hopes of narrowing in on our vibration problem. No luck. At this point, we knew Nautilus was safe to cruise so we made the decision to continue north and deal with the vibration later. 

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Nautilus cruising the Stono River behind John and Brandy’s house. Bye-bye Charleston!

From Charleston, we cruised to Georgetown, South Carolina and docked at Harborwalk Marina. Georgetown is a small, but charming waterfront town. We arrived late in the afternoon so most shops and historical landmarks were closed. We did make it to Independent Seafood Market and scored some fresh shrimp and flounder. I also made a new friend! 

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Waiting for fish handouts!

My favorite stretch so far was cruising the Waccamaw River from Georgetown to North Myrtle Beach. The River was refreshingly beautiful and was just what I needed to give me back that ewwww, ahhhhh feeling. The Waccamaw was wide and deep and lined with cypress trees and endless osprey nets.

Even the infamous Rock Pile was relatively easy. The Rock Pile is a 3-mile narrow stretch of the ICW with submerged rocks and a rock shelf. When the ICW was being built, a solid ledge was discovered in this area. To stick to budget and time, the Army Corp of Engineers merely made the area narrower.

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Just stay in the channel and don’t hit the rocks! Mission accomplished! 

Today was bridge day. After9 fixed bridges and 3 swing bridges, we arrived in North Myrtle Beach! 

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After docking in Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, we noticed all the Looper Burgees in the Marina. We walked the docks and met four other looper boats and attended our first docktails. You guys, the Looper family is amazing. I left with my stomach and heart full (and lots of boat cards). 

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Advertising on the ICW.

The most exciting thing about today is crossing the *state line*. GPS told me that at 11:05am we crossed into North Carolina. Yipppeee…I think!

The ICW never ceases to amaze me. How does this shoaling happen? Why are the sunken boats still here? Why areeeeee there sunken boats? 

We ran into someone who told us a little story about cruising the ICW. He said “there are three types of boaters. Those that have run aground. Those that will run aground. And the liars”. We laughed and nodded. You guys, the ICW is a two person job. It’s usually Rob driving and me on alert with every guide book we own, the binoculars and watching waterway alerts on my phone. 

The dredge operator is on the radio telling us “move closer to the dredge. If you’re not right next to us, you’re gonna hit bottom”. What on earth? The funniest thing to me is the grill…lol! 

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Pass the burger.

We safely arrived in Southport and attended a seminar at the marina about traversing the ICW. It will prove to be invaluable. 

Stay tuned…

Over and out!

xo, Admiral

p.s. Catch up with Rob in Captains Corner