We spent our last day in Norfolk, where else, but at the beach - we went to Croatan Beach which is the local's surf beach over by Virginia Beach. It's a little tough to find since there aren't any signs but we finally managed to sniff it out and it was worth it. It wasn't nearly as crowded or dingy as the rest of VA Beach we had seen a couple days earlier. While the waves weren't nearly as big as they had been in Hatteras or Wrightsville Beach, it didn't take us long to be in the waves happily boogie boarding away!!
On the way back to the boat we had to find a store to get chicken parts - no not for dinner, but so the boys could go crabbing once we got to the James River where we were headed. Carrying out new nets, wooden mallets for smacking the crabs and chix parts, we were loaded for bear - bring on the James and the crabs!! We left Norfolk the next day which was a little strange - Norfolk is the start or end of the ICW (depends of course on which way you are traveling and for us it was the end) and we had steamed all the way up from Palm Beach on it give or take a couple days that we went outside into the Atlantic. The Ditch as the ICW is often called has lots of pluses and minuses - on the plus side, it is much more protected than the ocean so you can usually travel it no matter the weather, the scenery is often breathtaking and there are many great anchorages; on the minuses side, there are tons of bridges many of which need to be opened before you can get through which is time consuming and annoying, it is often very shallow and there are tons of no wake zones which slow you down. On the whole though, we have thoroughly enjoyed our travels on the ICW and will miss it (at least until the next time).
We passed through Hampton Roads (which is like a major waterway intersection where the Atlantic, the ICW (or Elizabeth River) and the James River all meet) - it is a major heavy duty traffic area as it leads to major commercial ports, is home to the largest naval base in the US if not the world, and is home to several very large shipyards!! Can you say lots of tugs, barges, container ships, and huge gray naval warships??? That's usually what you see going through Hampton Roads, but the other morning it was reasonably quiet - a couple tugs and a few barges but all the warships seemed to be in port for the moment - whew!!!
The trip up the James River was beautiful - lots of osprey, hawks and even a few bald eagles to keep us company.
We passed the old reserve fleet (also know as the mothball fleet - essentially it is a whole bunch of old military warships that have been decommissioned and just sit out to one side of the river - the first time I saw it made me think Virginia was planning on invading North Carolina!!) and then Kingsmill which is in Williamsburg (we will stop there on our way back up the James).
The next day we dropped our dinks and it was time to explore the Chick - what an amazing and largely undiscovered place - at least to the majority of cruisers!!!
That afternoon as we were enjoying the calm before the party (SS had invited us over for a mahi dinner - the last of their Bahamas caught mahi!!!!) and were getting ready to go pick up Doug's sister Dale by dinghy, who should pull into our quiet little anchorage but Shenanigans, a 44 foot DeFever with Trudy and Steen, fellow DeFeverites that we had last seen at the Rendezvous in February!!! Cruising can indeed be a small world! Anyways, Dale, Doug and I headed over to September Song for an amazing mahi/corn on the cob dinner - thank you so much guys as always!!
Yesterday we headed out around 8:00 am waving and blowing our horns at Shenanigans and Peggy Sue as we motored by for our trip further up the James River towards Richmond. Not too many cruising boats head this far up the James River and let me tell you, they are really missing a wonderful treat!!! Most of the time the best places we've been are the ones off the beaten path - you just have to look for an opportunity and then be willing to take a chance!!
We had gotten used to having the waterway to ourselves and were enjoying the peace and calm of a great day on the water when suddenly two very military-like craft bombed by us doing at least 150 mph (OK well maybe not quite but when you are only going about 7-8 knots it sure can feel that way!!!) - never had any idea who or what they were, but it made for great pictures!!
It was a ton of fun having Dale on the boat with us for the ride up the James River - this is her and Doug's old stomping grounds and Dale still lives in this area so I think it was fun for her to see all the places she knew from the water which gives such a different perspective.
We finally got to our planned anchorage at Hatcher Island and to our surprise there were stakes across the entrance to the little pond - guess we weren't anchoring there after all!! Think the guidebook needs to be updated - but then again, when you explore off the beaten path, sometimes all is not as you expect!!! We cruisers always have a back up plan so we just turned around and headed back to Jones Neck Island where we pulled in to the loop around the island and dropped anchor in a really cute, protected offshoot of the river!! What a bonus - sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut - we just lucked into a great little anchorage. Yesterday afternoon we sat on the boat munching on burgers enjoying a coldie or two and watching the blue herons and egrets wander the mud flats in search of food along the side of the river until it was time to drop the dink and bring Dale ashore. Another great afternoon on the water!!
Today our nephew Levi is hopping on his jet ski and meeting us at our anchorage - what took us all day yesterday to travel will take him less than an hour (the jet ski goes about 50-55 mph)!! While we enjoy the peace and serenity of traveling at 7-8 knots and all the opportunities it affords us to see the wildlife and surrounding scenery, he just enjoys speed (he's 19 for pete's sake). Guess there are tradeoffs in everything in life!! We can't wait to see him and may take him out exploring in our family car - we might not go 50 mph, but Hobos can kick up her heels, especially when she knows we have a day of exploring ahead of us!!!
Click here to see our anchorage near Jones Neck Island.
Happy Birthday, Dee Dee!!!
3 days ago