After finishing our long hop outside from Charleston, we ended up in the South River, which lies west of the Neuse River opposite Oriental, NC, With Cathy’s brother-in-law Clint still on board, we headed out the next morning to make our way north to Dowry Creek, where we would stay for the next 2 days. With a fair amount of wind and a shorter distance to go, we sailed as much as we could, breezing along on the southwest winds up the Neuse until we followed the ICW’s 90 degree turn east into the Bay River. The winds now on the beam, Orion heeled over and took off for the short distance until the river narrowed for the entrance to the Hobucken Cut. We doused the sails, motoring through the cut and out Goose Creek until we reached the Pamlico River, where we unfurled them again and silenced the motor.
As seems to be our luck, the wind gradually weakened, leaving us completely as we approached the entrance to the Pungo River. After searching the horizon in vain for evidence of the 15 to 20 knots forecast, we were thinking it was time to start the engine again. But before Cathy could put the key in the ignition, a puff arrived, then another and then we were moving again. With the wind’s increase in velocity, it shifted more to the Southeast, requiring a few jibes to make our course up the Pungo. When we followed its turn to the east, we were now close hauled and making 8 knots. But this was going to be short-lived, since we were only a couple miles from our destination – Dowry Creek Marina. With the forecast over the next few days, we realized this was likely to be the last sail for several days. So we were glad for the time we got, but wishing for Clint’s sake it could have been longer.
With stormy weather forecast and not wanting to arrive in Hampton until Friday, we put in at the marina for 2 nights. It was going to be an unseasonably hot couple of days with temperatures soaring to the 90’s. We were glad for power to run the air conditioning and the ice machine. Clint had never seen Belhaven, so we took a short ride in the marina’s courtesy car to drive through the little town. It had changed little since our last visit a couple of years earlier. After grabbing an ice cream cone in town, we drove back to the marina for a short walk and a cooling dip in the pool. In the evening, we gathered with our fellow cruisers in the comfortable marina lounge, sharing stories of our winter’s adventures.
We had planned to arrive at Great Bridge on Thursday to rendezvous with Steve. He would join us there for the final leg to Hampton and get some experience going through the locks and opening bridges on the Elizabeth River. We pulled onto the free dock between the bridge and lock shortly after one – in time to walk down to get some groceries, propane and, of course, ice cream. It was another stifling hot day, and the bugs descended at sunset. We put in our screens for only the 2nd time since we’ve been on Orion. By late evening a cold front had moved through and it was finally cool enough to sleep.
We had a little time to do boat projects in between travel. Using an idea from Bette on Inspiration, Cathy made some tubes to make it easier to stow the enclosure curtains, keeping them in good shape, but taking up less space than lying flat. She cut a 3” PVC pipe to the widths of the curtains, wrapped a towel around the pipe, and sewed a sheet to it. The pipes would accommodate 2 panels each and could be stowed on the V-Berth shelves. Thanks, Bette!
After pulling into Dowry Creek, we did an oil change, our first since leaving the Bahamas.
But the biggest issue has become the problems with our Garmin 5208 chartplotter. We had already been planning to send it back it to resolve a voltage issue that was preventing us from displaying AIS signals at the helm. However, just before we left Charleston, the SD card-reader would no longer accept the SD cards, meaning Dave could no longer load routes and waypoints to the helm from his stored files. We had to load these all manually, which took several hours, although not as long as it had during that first year heading south. But trouble comes in threes and our third problem with the unit was the killer. As we were leaving Dowry Creek, the unit kept losing the GPS signal. After 15 minutes, the problem went away, but 2 days later when leaving Coinjock, it was back. And this time, it persisted. Without our position on the unit, it kept sending messages and eventually turned itself off. We already had our small Garmin 76 mounted on the helm for anchoring and timing to bridges, so we started using it as a backup, getting a sense of upcoming turns and distances. Dave managed to disconnect the GPS by removing its fuse, so we could use the 5208’s charts. The unit has now been removed and sent back to Garmin. Since this will be the fourth replacement, we are more than a little curious to see how well the next one holds up.
Family, Friends and Other Notables
We’ve managed to spend a couple of weekends in Emporia with the kids and grandkids. We took in a Roanoke River festival in Roanoke Rapids with Adam’s family and followed up with a Mother’s Day picnic at his house. The next weekend, we spent time at Bonnie and Troy’s helping finish an attic room, which will accommodate the furniture and other items still in the room which will become the next nursery in a few weeks. Then, on Sunday, we enjoyed a surprise birthday party for Adam.
Staying Put for A While
We’ll be in and out of Hampton, working on the boat, swimming at the nearby community center and visiting family and friends. If you’re in the neighborhood, give us a call.