May 15, 2011 Hampton Public Piers, VA
Happy 7th birthday to our grandson, Kaya! It rained overnight like they predicted it would and we woke to partly cloudy skies. The sun peeked through every now and then as we were getting ready to leave for Jamestown. We walked Auggie and got him settled in for our departure. He was asleep on the sofa before we left. We picked up the truck which was parked in the parking garage nearby and left around 9:30. It was a 30 minute ride and we decided to take the scenic route along the Colonial Parkway. This route took us through a very beautiful, woodsy area, full of hills and creeks.
It was a road that passed through the forests and marshlands and along the James River shore.
The road took us past the turn off for Colonial Williamsburg, and into the Jamestown Settlement.
We got to the visitor’s entrance, bought tickets, and had enough time to visit an exhibit or two before the introductory movie.
After the movie, we went through the exhibition galleries, showing the 17th century beginnings in Virginia in the context of the Powhatan Indians, English, and African cultures. They had some great exhibits.
I even found information on “roanoke”….the shell beads used in trading with the English. This was a beautiful example of them.
The next part of our tour took us outside. We headed out on our self-guided walk of the outdoor living area where costumed historical interpreters described and demonstrated activities of the early 1600’s Virginia. Our first stop was the Powhatan Indian Village.
There were recreations of reed-covered houses, the ceremonial circle, and crop fields.
We spoke to someone who described how they made their fishing nets and preserved their food with salt.
Next on our tour, were replicas of the 3 ships that sailed to Virginia in 1607 to establish America’s first permanent English colony. The first, and largest ship was the Susan Constant.
We were able to go down below deck and experience what the colonists did on their first voyage to the New World.
The second and third ships, the Godspeed and Discovery, were next and were much smaller. Bob had some questions to ask the historians on board about the ships. They were very knowledgable!
We stopped next in the Riverfront Discovery Area to listen to someone speak on the importance of waterway transportation and commercial activities of European, Powhatan, and African cultures.
Last stop was at the James Fort.
It represents the 1610-1614 time period with thatched roof houses, a storehouse, court of guard, blacksmith, and church inside a triangular palisade.
We saw a great demonstration of a matchlock black powder rifle.
We even got to try out a few things for ourselves. I tried on the yoke to see if I could carry the buckets of water. Not very far…..
Bob tried on an armor breast plate and helmet. He looked so fierce!
Three hours later we were walking to the car and by now the sun had come out and it was warm. We took the Interstate home and were delayed by two traffic accidents along the way. We finally made it back to the boat in time to take Auggie for a walk. We had almost gotten back to the boat at the end of our walk, when the sky opened up with huge drops of rain. It rained for a short time and then it was done. Bob said we even got a few pieces of hail…….not enough to make a snowball out of though. We relaxed a little before going out for pizza. It had been over a month since we had pizza…and since we had a car….why not? We got a suggestion from the dockmaster, got in the truck, and headed over there. They were closed. Ugh! We drove back to the marina along Queen’s Way Blvd. and found a local hangout called Marker 20. We had some good food and got back to the boat by 6:30. The dark clouds came and went, but there was no more rain before dark. Tomorrow we leave for Sarah Creek in the York River, about 30 miles away. This would be our first encounter with Chesapeake Bay.
May 16, 2011 Hampton Public Piers to York River, Sarah Creek anchorage
My prayers were answered when we woke to find sunny, blue skies and calm winds. Let’s hope we find those conditions on CB (Chesapeake Bay). We were awakened at 5:30 by all the commotion from the charter fishing boat that was docked next to us. They left about 6:30 and by then it was time to get up anyhow. We wanted an early start. CB has a reputation as being a body of water that you don’t want to mess with. It looks small, but can be treacherous. What makes it so dangerous is the fact that it can be greatly affected by wind and strong currents created by tides. When you get wind and tidal currents working against each other, you get steep waves close together instead of the rolling swells of the ocean. After boating on Lake Michigan for 20 years, we’re pretty familiar with waves being close together. We don’t like it, but we know how to deal with it. We prepared the boat and threw off the lines before 8:00. Auggie had gotten his morning walk and was good to go. Bob set our course on the GPS last night so we wouldn’t get lost and could drive a direct course to our destination. As we left Hampton River and entered CB, we passed a war ship
and a container ship entering Norfolk harbor.
As we traveled along the shore for awhile, we got a better view of the Old Point Comfort lighthouse from the water.
We even passed the charter fishing boat that woke us up this morning. They weren’t catching much as we heard them say on the radio.
Out on the bay, it was a little rolly on the beam from swells left from yesterday’s weather, but there were only ripples on the water. When we started out, the Bay was only 17.4 miles wide at that point. Further up on the bay the water turned glass calm. It seems we picked the perfect day to be on Chespeake Bay!
We had traveled 2 hours of our 3 hour trip when we came upon a fog bank. Thank goodness for auto-pilot, radar, and a predetermined course on the GPS. Bob blew our horn at periodic intervals to warn other boats of our presence in the York River. Picture driving down a country road at night with the lights off. Visibility was 50 ft. in all directions. We had to slow down from 10 to 7 mph. for safety’s sake. We finally drove out of the fog as we went further up the York River to Sarah Creek where we would be anchoring for the night. We spotted the Yorktown Victory Monument on the hillside above Yorktown across the river. It was quite impressive!
We picked a nice spot and dropped anchor at 11:30 after traveling 32.2 miles.
We had some lunch and took a dinghy ride with Auggie to do some exploring. We toured down both branches of Sarah Creek and out to the mouth of the river before turning back and stopping at the marina for some gas for the dinghy. This is the first place that we’ve ever been to where the fuel dock is self-service like a gas station on the street. Auggie liked the dinghy ride and all of the smells. He had his nose in the air and his ears flapped in the breeze as we drove into the wind.
Back at the boat, stormy clouds appeared in the distance, but never came our way. Later that afternoon, Bob helped me with my blog by dictating my writings to me.
He seemed to ad lib a lot and many things needed to be censured. What a surprise! The wind came up and blew us around a little on the anchor, but it remained sunny. Auggie took his much needed nap. Doesn’t he look comfortable?
We enjoyed the afternoon and grilled pork chops for dinner. Later,Bob took Auggie to the boat landing for an evening walk and we watched the full moon come up. He brought me a beautiful, white rose that he found growing along the roadside. Isn’t he sweet? Tomorrow we plan to dinghy over to Yorktown to view the Victory Center and Battlefield if the weather co-operates.
May 17, 2011 York River, Sarah Creek anchorage
We had a less-than-peaceful night. We thought we had picked a protected anchorage based on the projected wind direction, but not so much. The wind blew right down the channel where we were anchored and created the loud wappa-wappa sound on the hull–all night long. Couple that with noises made by the anchor chain (even with the snubber on) and that equals a noisy night. We slept until 8:00 (which is late for us) and got up to some light rain. The sun peeked in and out and it felt warm out of the wind. Our plan to take the dinghy across the river was foiled due to the winds, but we found out we could get a taxi to the Yorktown Visitor’s Center for $19 round trip.
That would be our plan today. Bob took Auggie to shore for his morning romp before we left.
When they got back, Auggie did some exploring on the swim platform. This was his first time on the swim platform, so he was a little shaky at first.
He loves to look into the water and see what he can see.
Our plan was for Bob and I to dinghy over to the York River Yacht Haven (closeby), where we would leave the dinghy and get the taxi. First, we would move the boat to a more protected anchorage in the other branch of Sarah Creek. Once we settled in there, we were ready to go to Yorktown.
Randy, the taxi driver, picked us up and we were at the Visitor’s Center door by 11:30, just in time to see the introductory movie.
After the movie, we took the self-guided walking tour of the Yorktown Settlement which began at the Yorktown Victory Monument, commemorating the great victory at Yorktown.
They provide a free trolley to take you around, but we opted to walk.
Yorktown is most remembered as the site where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, bringing an end to the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. We began our walk on Main St. which is closed to vehicular traffic. There were not many people touring the area today, which made it very nice for walking around and seeing everything.
We walked down Main St. to Dudley Digges house (built in 1760). His home is a prime example of the architecture of the time.
Continuing down the road, we passed homes belonging to prominent citizens in the town (built in 1720-1760).
We also passed the old Swan Tavern which is now an antiques shop.
The most impressive home was the estate of General Thomas Nelson.
He led the local “tea party” and served in the House of Burgess in Virginia. He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was also elected the third governor of Virginia after Thomas Jefferson. His house still bears the scars from the artillery bombardment during the siege. Note the cannonball in the wall between the windows.
He is buried in the cemetery of the Grace Episcopal Church.
Grace Episcopal Church was built about 1697 and is still active today.
It has been an active parish for over 300 years. The wall surrounding the church is very old as can be seen by this tree that has wrapped itself around it.
From there, we walked down to the Riverwalk–a walkway along the York River which took us past the Old Yorktown Pub and Cornwallis’ Cave where he hid out during the siege of Yorktown.
We stopped at the Beach Deli for a beer and a great view of the river. There were quite a few people at the beach for such a cool day.
From there, we could watch the Coast Guard practicing their maneuvers. They had about 8 boats of all shapes and sizes practicing in the river.
Just up river from where we were, there is an munitions depot where ships finishing their deployment drop off unused munitions and ships being deployed pick up their munitions prior to departure. Two battleships were docked there when we crossed the bridge. Our last stop was a look over the Yorktown battlefield.
By now we could see that the wind on the York River had picked up, causing white caps and those steep waves I talked about yesterday, where the wind and tide oppose each other. We were so glad that we hadn’t come by dinghy. We made our way back to the Visitor’s Center as the skies darkened. We waited for our taxi and got a ride back to the marina, where we jumped into the dinghy and got back to the boat as the rain drops fell. It didn’t rain long before the sun was out again. The stormy clouds came and went all afternoon, but we didn’t see much rain. The wind remained strong, out of the southeast all day and into the night, creating 2-3′ waves on the York River. From our anchorage, through the binoculars, we could see the white caps from where we were. The dark clouds finally left the area just before supper and we had sunny skies until sunset. We had thought about going to Williamsburg from here, but the weather window before the next stormy, windy weather will be tomorrow, so we’ll move on and maybe catch Williamsburg on our way back. The strong wind stopped at some point during the night and it was calm and peaceful until morning.
May 18, 2011 York River, Sarah Creek anchorage to Mobjack Bay anchorage, East River
The skies were blue in one direction and black in the other. The stormy weather was not supposed to come our way, but it rained lightly off and on. We decided to pick up some cheap fuel at the York River Yacht Haven on our way out. It is self-service, just like at a gas station. While Bob fueled up, I took Auggie for a little morning walk. We were on our way by 9:30 and into the York River. It was fairly calm on the water, but the dark rain cloud was chasing us down the river.
It finally caught up with us and rained on us awhile. Out on CB, it was a little rolly, but not uncomfortable and the sun finally came out.
We were only on the bay a short time before turning NW into Mobjack Bay.
We entered Mobjack Bay at 11:15 with sunny skies behind us and dark skies ahead. It was 3.5 miles up the East River, the first major tributary to the north, and into Put In Creek where we would anchor for the night. At the entrance to East River is the town of Mobjack where there was a steamship landing.
The town of Mobjack has a rich oyster history.
A little further up the river our guidebook said there was an old wooden mill with a paddle wheel. On the same property sits an old white house that was once owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono before he died. It is said that they were going to use it for a studio. Prior to that, the house was the birthplace of Sally Tompkins, the only woman commissioned as an officer in the Confederate Army. She was the founder of a military hospital which saved the lives of 95% of its patients – unheard of in those days. We never found the house they spoke of. We traveled 21 miles today by the time we dropped our anchor near the boat launch in a very quiet cove at 11:45.
Auggie got comfortable right away. We had some lunch before going on a exploratory dinghy ride.
Auggie was excited to go on a dinghy ride.
We went down Put In Creek almost to the end before it shallowed up and we had to turn around. We caught a glimpse of the town of Matthews, where you can get groceries, if needed.
Auggie loved the ride and gets more comfortable in the dinghy each time we go.
Right now his favorite thing is sitting next to Bob on the seat.
But he got a little braver by putting his feet up on the side of the tube.
His little nose goes a mile-a-minute, just like a rabbit, as he tries to capture all the smells in the air.
We continued on down the western arm of the East River where the shoreline is spotted with modest homes with private piers and wooded intimacy.
We stopped at the boat launch to stretch our legs before we went back to the boat.
We relaxed in quiet solitude as the sun peeked in and out from the clouds. Auggie got a very needed bath today. We were waiting for a warm day and today was it, once the sun came out.
Bob saw 2 sting rays swimming around the boat. Can you believe it? We sat out in back listening to the radio, enjoying the day when we noticed dark clouds to the west of us, moving north. Would they come close?
About that same time, a weather warning came on the radio. A severe thunderstorm was moving up the Chesapeake Bay along the western shore, right where we were. We watched the storm continue to move and we prepared ourselves for some bad weather. The thunder and lightning, off in the distance, were the first signs we had, so we unplugged everything electrical and prepared for the worst. They warned of 1/4″ hail and 60 mph winds with the storm. The weather service said it would arrive by us at 4:50 and almost like clockwork, the rain began around 4:45. We continued to hear thunder as it rained, but there were no high winds or lightning to accompany it. Bob was ready for anything in case the winds came. Auggie got spooked a little by a clap of thunder that came down closeby, so he waited in his kennel where he would feel safe. The storm lasted about 20 minutes – a “non-storm event” as Bob would say.
The skies cleared overhead and the sun came out. Somebody got that serious storm. At least it wasn’t us! The nice part of the day was after the storm passed and the skies became sunny and blue. We made one last trip to the boat launch with Auggie before darkness. There were more storm clouds in the distance, but we didn’t know if they would be coming our way. We checked the weather radar just to be safe.
May 19, 2011 Mobjack Bay anchorage to Deltaville anchorage
After a huge thunderstorm last night around 9:00 with heavy rain, thunder, and a great lightning show (but no wind), we had a peaceful night and a restful sleep. The storm was too close to use any TV or electronics, so it was off to an early sleep. This morning Augguie got his walk on shore and we hauled the anchor at 8:15. As we were starting out, the sonar stopped working, so we floated around awhile so Bob could get it working again. Without it, we could not tell the depth of the water which is very important to navigation and avoiding running aground. By 8:30 he had it working again and we were on our way heading out of Mobjack Bay. The skies were hazy with high overcast clouds. Our destination: Deltaville. As we rounded the corner coming out of Mobjack Bay into Chesapeake Bay, we spotted a familiar structure of New Point Comfort Lighthouse, which is unmanned and abandoned.
There were more boats on CB than we’ve seen moving about in a long time. The crabbers wer busy checking their traps and it seemed we were constantly dodging their crabpots everywhere we went. Soft-shelled crabs are “in season” right now and we vowed to try a soft-shell crab sandwich before we leave. We had some small swells and 1′ waves from behind us, which caused a feeling of “surfing” in the boat. It’s not my favorite feeling, but it’s better than running head-on into the waves and it definitely makes for better gas mileage. We passed Wolf Trap Light- a red 52′ high caison structure and turned into the Piankatank River to Deltaville. Soon after, we were approached by a Coast Guard vessel with its blue light flashing. Oh no…..we were going to be boarded to see if we were in compliance with Coast Guard safety regulations. My heart never beat so fast!
Their boat came alongside and 2 officers stepped off onto our boat.
They spent about 20 minutes on board checking documentation/registration, life vests, fire extinguishers, flares, navigation rule book, required placards for discharging trash and oil, whether our overboard discharge valve for the toilet was locked, and whether our navigation lights and horn worked. They entered all the information on a Smart Phone, printed us a receipt that we can use if we get stopped again, and were off.
They were very respectful, friendly, and thanked us for knowing where everything was on our boat. Apparently, some boaters do not. Soon we were on our way again. We dropped anchor in Jackson Creek just across from the city of Deltaville and Deltaville Marina at 11:30 after traveling 34.1 miles today. That includes 1 mile of wandering around with the Coast Guard in tow.
It took us two tries to get the anchor to take hold, but with the second try we were confident it would stay. Deltaville is a little village – all about boats. Any kind of service related to boats you will find there. Deltaville got its name when it applied for incorporation requesting the name of Delta. When they were told that the name was already taken, they added the “ville”, hence the name Deltaville. In Deltaville, boats outnumber residents by nearly 4 to 1 (800 residents, 3000 boats). At one time it was known as the “Boat Building Capital of the Chesapeake”. Now that we were in a place to get some work done, we had a canvas adjustment that needed to be taken care of. Once we got settled, we disassembled the back awning and took the bar into the marina to get it adjusted. Bob, from Phase II Canvas Shop, would be making a modification to the tubing, which supports the aft awning. The arch of the tube was 5″ too wide and it blew the holding brackets right out of the arch. My Bob made an earlier repair at home, but it didn’t hold. Time to make it right!
Once we dropped off the tube to be worked on, Bob and I took a dinghy ride into the other branch of the river. There we noticed some home and tree damage from a storm. In asking at the marina, we were told that a tornado passed through this area 3 weeks ago, damaging roofs, buildings, and knocking down trees. It cut a path from the Piankatank River to the Rappahannock River. Good thing we weren’t here for that! Once we got back to the boat, we did some trip planning for next week and took Auggie for a long walk onshore. Bob also discovered after doing an engine check earlier today, that the dripless shaft seal was leaking water into the boat on the starboard side. After an Internet search, he did his own repair and it stopped leaking. We’ll have to wait and see if it holds after driving the boat again. It was a beautiful afternoon in the anchorage. There were about 8 other boats with us and everyone seemed to be enjoying the day. We had a later dinner and then watched some TV after checking the local radar. No storms in the area tonight as far as we could tell. Let’s hope so!
May 20, 2011 Deltaville anchorage to Deltaville Marina
No storms, no rain last night! Woo-hoo! It was a bright, sunny morning with calm winds. We moved over to take a slip at the Deltaville Marina at 8:00.
Bob went directly to check us in and borrow the courtesy car. He went to West Marine to buy oil to do his oil change. I started a load of wash right away, since there was only 1 washing machine and I was sure I’d have to share it with other boaters this morning. While waiting for my wash to get done, I met a lady on a sailboat who is from Anna Maria Island, just down the road from Palmetto. They are on their first year of the Great Loop trip and we spent the time sharing stories. Time went by quickly. In between doing 3 loads of wash, I also gave the inside of the boat a thorough cleaning. Bob worked on changing the oil.
Bob and I finished our jobs about the same time and then he had to get rid of the old oil at the recycling center. We had a bite of lunch before Bob got the bikes ready to go into town. Around noon, the “other Bob” brought back our tubing and the Bobs reattached the canvas. It fit perfectly!
We would highly recommend Bob’s work. You can find him at email@example.com
. After he left, we got on our bikes and took a ride to check out the other marinas on Broad Creek.
We stopped and had a beer outside on the deck at Cocomos. It was a cute little place.
We finished our beer in a hurry after hearing thunder in the distance and were headed to downtown when we felt raindrops. We had left the boat hatches open, so we took the shortcut back to the boat and closed them up. We waited in the Boater’s Lounge until the rain ended and then borrowed the courtesy car instead of riding our bikes. The skies looked a little iffy and with the car we could go to the grocery store which was on the other edge of town. In town, we saw the tornado damage from 3 weeks ago.
The tornado ripped a hole through the middle of the Baptist church.
Amazingly, it never touched the church next door. The dockmaster said that “the Lord doesn’t like those Baptists” and we chuckled.
There were quite a few homes and businesses that were doing repairs. The storm damage was the talk of the town.
From there we stopped at the grocery store, the Dollar Store, and Hurd’s True Value Hardware Store.
“If Hurd’s doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.” (That’s their slogan.) We got what we needed. Once we got back to the marina, I finished one more load of wash, while Bob tuned up our bikes a little from our ride. We sat on the back of the boat enjoying a cocktail, while watching the boats arrive in the anchorage for the night.
While I was gone finishing the wash, Bob got to watch a mini remote control sailboat maneuver around the marina. See the little boat to the right of the pier?
I spotted a cool name on a really old wooden sailboat as we were walking around.
Other than that one mini-rain shower today, it didn’t look like we were going to have our usual afternoon thunderstorms. What a relief! We enjoyed our time here in Deltaville and if I came back again, there are a few cute little shops I’d check out in town. Auggie got a couple of walks today and enjoyed checking out the squirrels and eating a few of their nuts. He had a blast! After dinner, Bob went over to the boat next door to talk to the guy on an old Hatteras motor yacht while I rested my back. He found out the guy’s father started Master Charge years ago. That’s where he got his money, I guess. We plan on moving on tomorrow to the Rappahannock River for a couple of days of anchoring out. The weather looks good for traveling. It turned out to be a wonderful day!
May 21, 2011 Deltaville Marina to Yopps Cove, Rappahannock R., Irvington, VA
With an early start, we were able to wash the boat, fill up the water tank, get a free pumpout, and a gallon of gas for the outboard motor. We were on the move at 9:30 on a beautiful, sunny morning. There was a light breeze and the sunlight sparkled on the ripples in the water. We came out of Jackson Creek and into the Piankatank River where we rounded Sting Ray Point on the Chesapeake. Then we entered the Rappahannock River, more than 3 miles wide at its mouth, and very historic. Many cruisers claim that the Rappahannock River has the best cruising on the bay. Many sailors were taking advantage of the wind, zigzagging across its wide expanse. The river was lined with huge estates along the banks and on its hillsides.
Nine miles up the river, we entered into Carter Creek, where we chose an anchorage for the night in Yopps Cove at 11:00 after 17.7 miles today. The town of Irvington is nearby.
We had some lunch and took a dinghy ride. Auggie stood guard by the transom door of the boat to make sure we would not leave without him.
We dinghied up the Eastern Branch, amazed at the beautiful homes. The high banks of the river were lined with beautiful wooded estates–every one with a pier and a boat.
We located a boat launch where we could go ashore with Auggie and walk. There was a man who was working on his boat down at the shore. His name was Russell Gaskins and he was an old-time crabber that is still working his traps. Bob got to talking with him and asked if he could go with him tomorrow to do some crabbing, but by law they can’t crab on Sundays. Too bad! It would have been quite an experience. He told us that at one time there were 80-90 crabbers working on the river, but now there are only 2 and he is one of them. They can get as much as $70 a bushel for soft-shell crab and $35 for hard shell. The price varies so much that no one can make a living at it any more. The crabs are still there, but the processing plants have disappeared and so have most of the boats. Russell offered to let us use his truck to go into the town of Irvington and look around, so we took him up on his generous offer. Bob, Auggie, and I drove around town and out to the Tides Inn, a lodge and resort destination to check it out.
We stopped at Christ Church, built in 1735, which is on the historic register as a standing example of a Colonial church.
On Steamboat Road, we discovered some old restored buildings from the original town. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One was the Town of Irvington Town Hall.
The other was the Post Office, now a gallery.
We told Russell we’d put some gas in the car for letting us use it, so we stopped at the only gas station in town, Mom and Pops. Gas was cheap at $3.76 a gallon.
We checked out the Steamship Museum before heading back to the dock where we left our dinghy.
Irvington was once a bustling community centered around a steamboat wharf. The last steamboat departed Irvington in 1937, taking away much of the town’s reason for existing. A steady influx of retirees are drawn to the rural atmosphere and abundance of waterfront real estate along the numberless creeks that snake their way inland.
We brought the car back, said goodbye to Russell, and hopped in the dinghy to finish our exploration. We crossed over to the other side into Carter’s Creek and Cove to see if we could find any crab processing plants still in operation. We think we found just one.
Some of the banks of Carter’s Creek were lined with beautiful purple flowering bushes, like lilacs, but didn’t have the pleasant smell like they do.
There were also quite a few old boathouses still in use from days gone by.
After 3 hours of touring around, we thought it was time to head back to the boat. A sailboat came in to anchor next to us and later more boats came in for the night. Auggie went right to sleep for his afternoon nap as soon as we got back. Bob and I made some phone calls (weekends are free) home. It was a great spring day on the water. After supper we took Auggie back to the boat launch for his evening walk and who should we meet, but Russell. He had come down to the boat launch after going out to dinner and came to check on things. (He owned the land and kept his crabbing boat, the Elizabeth R. there.)
He was all dressed up from going out to dinner and looked a lot different from when we met his this afternoon with his work clothes on. He is a very sweet man. It was fun to see him again and talk some more.
We left as the sun was going down and caught a striking sunset on the way back. It will be a quiet night at anchor.