September 18, 2006

Continuing South...

After the Annapolis Boat Show, with the nip of winter on the horizon, we began to head south as swiftly as possible. But, like all well-laid boating plans, the weather determined that we were to spend the rest of October in the Chesapeake.

Hurricane Wilma first whacked Florida, then began meandering up the East Coast towards Cape Hatteras. The Graveyard of the Atlantic is no place to be with a hurricane around, even if you're inside the ICW, so we stayed near Fairport, Viriginia, safely tied to a quiet little dock, up a quiet little creek, not very close to several quiet little towns.

Only the Chesapeake and Maine have such a wonderful variety of snug little spots like this, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay, visiting old friends and working on various boat projects. One of the biggies was replacing all the rubber hoses on our nearly 30-year-old Perkins engine. That required lots of engine dismantling, but we were headed into the ICW and we would be under power a lot. We were later very thankful that our engine was in top shape while others were experiencing problems on the Waterway.

Finally, Wilma cleared out and we had a cool, but uneventful trip down to Norfolk. The Dismal Swamp Canal beckoned, and we once again enjoyed traveling this antique canal, originally surveyed by George Washington. The lock tender at Great Bridge serenaded us with his conch shell horn, and we were soon watching our masthead so it didn't hit the overhanging trees. At the North Carolina welcome center we were rafted five deep at the dock.

The other snowbird crews helped us pull 280 feet of chain out onto the dock so I could mark it off with wire ties--that is something worth doing when you're in a quiet spot. The trip on to Elizabeth City went quickly and we were just in time to go trick-or-treating at Halloween. As they have done for many years, Elizabeth City's very friendly citizens gave us a wonderful welcome complete with fresh roses, a wine and cheese party, and lots of warm handshakes. And, that welcome was not just for us, but for every visiting cruiser who passed through--amazing! Elizabeth City takes the prize for the best welcome on the Waterway.