Trip Log - Pg 4

October 04, 2011 to October 12, 2011

October 04, 2011

We departed our lovely anchorage in NYC around 1130hrs – headed for Sandy Hook to wait for a good weather window to head out to sea….all the way to Norfolk, Virginia. The trip is about 270 nautical miles, non -stop, meaning Steve and I will be on a 4-hour shift schedule at helm until we get there. The journey should take approximately 3 days and two nights...and I have to admit I’m a little nervous about it.  The ocean is a beautiful and wondrous place but it can get scary fast. Fortunately, we have a boat that was made for type of trip. In fact, Diana performs better with LOTS of wind and waves…so I just need to relax, not worry so much and enjoy the ride.


79th Steet Boat Basin – good place to moor the boat on the way back so we can visit the city 


79th Street Boat Basin…a little closer




Broadway is behind those buildings! I can’t wait to stop finally on our way back to see a show J



NYC shoreline


We ran a few errands on our way to Sandy Hook – the usual – water, ice and fuel. We also needed a chart of the Atlantic Coast covering Sandy Hook to Cape May – for some reason we don’t have a map that covers 6 miles out to sea. We need the chart in order to plot our course hourly and follow our position accurately. So, if the GPS fails, the paper chart is our backup so we can navigate the old school way.

It took two stops but we were able to get the things we needed.  The 2nd marina was called Liberty Landing Marina – beautiful place – lots of nice big boats.


Steve among the boats at the Liberty Island Marina


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               Leaving Liberty Island                             The Fuel attendant wishing us safe travels



Sorting bumpers and lines while leaving Liberty Island


By 1445hrs, we were ready to head to the “Hook”!

New York harbor is a very busy place and THAT’s an understatement! At one point, Steve and I counted 10 container ships, 2 Staten Island Ferry’s, 2 High Speed ferries, a couple of coast guard vessels, a tall ship, police boats, a couple of water taxis and a few sailboats – all competing for the same space – it was pretty hairy!

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NYC Shoreline – US Coast guard ship                        Sailboat enjoying the winds





Tall Ship


Statue of Liberty J



Me and the Statue of Liberty


Leaving the Harbour - See ya next time NYC!


Verrezano Bridge - Last bridge before the sea!

We arrived in Sandy Hook about approximately 1800hrs. We were able to anchor just inside the breakwater for the Atlantic Highlands Marina. It’s relatively protected  but the winds are high so it may be a rocky night.






Anchorage at Sandy Hook


Lots of boats at Sandy Hook


October 05, 2011

Salt water baby!!! 

This is a BIG marina. There must be a hundred sailboats moored here and on the other side there are fleets of fishing boats – neat stuff.

Well, quite a few of sailboats are waiting in the same position – waiting for a window to head south.  In our anchorage, we counted 6 other boats heading south most of which were from Quebec.  One couple we met in Castleton – Pierre and Marie on a 35ft C&C called Papillion. Pierre makes his living in boats – he transports, fixes and builds them. On his C&C alone, he gutted it and custom built all his cabinets, added extra water and fuel storage to name a few. This boat originally had a 7 foot draft!!! He wanted to take it places but felt the draft was too long to get into good anchorages so he shortened it. I think he cut 10 inches then melted it down and added it to the bottom of the remaining keel in a bulb shape – this way he doesn’t lose any of the weight – pretty smart. In Castleton, we had a drink together and Marie was showing us how they prep their meals in advance by canning.  We were impressed by their methods so she gave us a jar of “Coq of Vin” to try. Steve had it a few days later said it was delicious! We wanted to repay the gesture but weren’t sure whether we would see them again. When we looked around our anchorage last night - we saw them anchored just ahead of us J  I can bake a mean scone so I made a batch of blueberry scones last night to deliver to them this morning.  


Steve trying to find an internet connection for a weather report – no success

We motored over the Papillion to drop off the scones to Pierre and Marie. They have been held up in Sandy Hook for a few days waiting for their life raft to arrive. They needed to head into town and asked if we could give them a lift. They knew an internet where we could find some WIFI – which was EXACTLY what we needed. There are many homes along the shore here but none were generous with their WIFI.

At the Hudson Café we met 3 other cruisers and we were all at the Hudson Café doing the same thing – charging up whatever electronics we could, checking email, contacting friends and family through Skype and getting accurate weather information. It was a funny sight, we took up a whole corner of the café and every one of us had a laptop open.  

The Crew from a 32ft Contessa named Halcion gave us a couple of internet weather sites to check out – GRIB US and Weather  The information was fantastic!! We were able to see the weather patterns all the way down the coast for the next 4 days. It appeared that Thursday Oct 06 would be the day. Other boats were leaving on the ebb  tide this afternoon but the predicted winds were a little high for our comfort zone and we weren’t ready. So, first thing tomorrow it is. We too will leave when the tide is ebbing…we should soar out of Sandy Hook as a result.

Once back on Diana – Steve and I got to work!!

I baked a dozen muffins first thing this morning for easy eating. It will be soups, sandwiches, chips, chocolate bars and fruit for the next three days.   Steve and I won’t be sleeping much – so eating needs to be handy, plentiful and easy to get to.

While Steve was on deck securing everything and making a plan to secure the dinghy, I was in the cabin packing our overboard bag.


Contents of Overboard Bag 


Yay it all fits!

In order to secure the dinghy on deck and still be able to sail, it needed to be deflated a little. The idea is that it needs to have just enough air to support our weight in the event that we have to abandon ship. Once in the dinghy, we will inflate it the rest of the way and off we go with our overboard bag, VHF radio – crying a little as we watch Diana sink into the big blue while waiting for the coast guard to rescue us. Planning this feels really strange…scary and exciting all at once. Mom, it is highly unlikely that we will need to abandon ship but it could happen and we need to be ready.   


Steve figuring out the best way to tie the dingy on deck

Next was to sort out the clothing we intend to take on and off during the next three days. It’s a 3 or four layer process. – long johns, track pants, winder breaker pants, undershirt, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt , sweater and jacket – then our heavy weather rain suits are the final layer – all of which can be alternated when the temperature changes throughout the day.  

We then secured EVERYTHING in the cabin so things won’t fly out of the cupboards when we are healed over in a blow or in a rocky sea.

After supper, we plotted route on paper and on the Chart plotter. Steve on the chart plotter and I’m on the paper chart. This method ensures  the accuracy and safety of the route

Before bed we will review weather predictions for any changes.

In bed early tonight

October 06, 2011 @ 0700hrs

Winds – North 5 to 10 knots, temperature mid 50’s.

Up at 0530hrs.

Once the hot water was ready for our tea, we got cleaned up and immediately put on the anti-nausea patch (transderm V) – just in case. I know Steve would be just fine – I on the other hand know that I might be ill – my nerves along make me nauseas! This way we know for sure we will both be ok during the passage. 

Next, we put two reefs in the main (shorten the main sail) which will allow us to sail in heavy weather – just in case it’s crazy out there this morning. We can shake them out once we get out there to see for ourselves what the ocean is like.

Steve is very excited about heading out – he is a natural sailor ya know. I on the other hand, am not. This whole process is a little nerve wracking for me and it will take me a few hours to settle in once on the ocean.  So for the time being, I’m nervous and hoping a grow a big pair of hairy balls soon ;)


Sunrise at anchor – Sandy Hook



The deck is all set and the sails are rigged….



Heading out – everything is lashed down and secure – bring on the sea!!!



Sandy Hook


While on our way out of Sandy Hook – Steve was at the helm so I went below to complete the final task of setting up the sleeping berth.  While on ocean passage, neither one of us sleep very much. We nap more than anything in between shifts. To ease the getting in and out of the main berth – we set up the settee (couch) for sleeping. It will stay open and clear the entire time – so we can just fall into it at the end of our shift or be easily accessible for the person on shift to get the sleeping one’s attention if help is needed in the cockpit.


The sleeping berth is set up on the left, rain gear is hanging on the right with extra hangers so we can dress and undress quickly. All clutter has been removed and stored in the main berth. 

By 1000hrs, I was finally started to relax and enjoy the motion – it’s completely different. The swells are not something I’m used to and I’m very glad I put the patch on. The sails are up and the motor is OFF!! It’s very peaceful and I am assured by the performance of the boat that Diana was made for this.

Steve is very comfortable on board and at the helm.  The 4hrs shifts began at 0800hrs – Steve is up first.



Steve at the helm - very comforable


I however, am a little weary but adjusting rather well.

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is warm but we are in heavy gear anyway because it is damp and cool.  We are all geared up with life jackets, compasses and harnesses – ready to strap in at any moment.

The winds were lighter than expected so we shook out the reefs and sailed with everything flying. We are moving from anywhere between 4.5kts and 6.5knts – which is great for this little boat. It FEELS like we are hurdling ourselves south!

Our route south is taking us anywhere between 3 and 6 nautical miles off shore – just far enough away to avoid the little boats and close enough to avoid big tankers and big fishing boats.  The sea is relatively calm about 2 to 4ft.

We reviewed the weather forecast again and the nice, clear temperatures are here to stay until Monday.


All sails up!! Look at that ocean!!

We planned the route in two chunks; the first is Sandy Hook NJ to Cape May-about 120 nautical miles. I predict we will get there between 0600-0800hrs tomorrow.  If the weather gets bad we hold up there if we need to. The second jump is from Cape May to Norfolk Virginia - about 155 nautical miles. If all goes well and we keep going – we will be in Norfolk Virginia by 1500hrs on October 08, 2011.

Neither one of us likes  sailing at night but we have to so we suck it up. Our worst fear would be to run into something either another boat…or another boat. This makes me anxious, so I have reviewed the navigation light system and the rules of the road to ease my anxiety. I am confident we are well prepared so fingers crossed all will be well.

No marine wildlife so far – we are dreaming to see a whale or a school of dolphins. Steve is the eagle eye when it comes to spotting wildlife but nothing yet. There is however, a lot of trash in the water – very strange and disgusting – could just be remnants from all the storms but it’s still sad that the animals living here have to deal with it.



Ever wonder where those helium balloons end up when they fly away? In the ocean.

October 07, 2011 0000hrs.

The sailing is AMAZING!! Steve had the 1600-2000hr shift and had a great time. I did the next one till midnight and it was FABULOUS!! Probably, the best sailing experience so far for me! We were on the same tack the entire day up until midnight. The night was beautiful – it was clear and the moon lit up the whole horizon making visibility top notch!

The winds began to climb as Steve took over the helm at midnight. The boat and Steve are more than capable of handling themselves and I was very happy I was not on shift. At one point, Steve had a sailboat nearby and a tugboat came on the radio to advise him that he would be passing to his starboard…and the tug was pulling a HUGE barge. At sea, the tugs tow the barges with hundreds of feet of chain. When they pass you, you see the tug, then 300 feet later, you get the barge!! At this same time the winds were shifting to the east and pushing him a little too close to everyone. He needed to tack over to get some space – all this in the middle of the night!  I felt the boat change course and got up for a little bit around 0200hrs to see if he needed any help but he had it under total control.  The wind was howling and Diana was heeled right over loving every minute of it - she was doing anywhere between 5 to 6.5knts sailing!! We definitely felt like we were speeding down the coast!

I went back to bed around 0300hrs and up again at 0430hrs to switch with Steve – the winds were much calmer but we shortened sail a bit anyway so I wouldn’t be freaked out. I cruised at about 3kts until day break (0600hrs) ha! Ha! (I know I’m a chicken!!)  However, once I had daylight, I brought the jib sail back out and picked up a knot and half of speed J. Steve took the helm at 0830hrs so I could get a couple of hours sleep then we can start the shifts all over again.




A sunny morning with our flags flying and radar deflector hanging

By 1000hrs the wind had died, so we have been motoring ever since. Good for the batteries but bad for the noise. Oh well, we will be sailing again tonight.

It’s going to be another long night but once we get to Norfolk – for showers and groceries – all the bad stuff will be forgotten and we will look forward to our next ocean passage. 

….later on in the day

Steve spotted dolphins around 1800hrs!!  The winds are moving to the east but not strong enough to keep us at 5kts. Earlier on, I had crunched some numbers – if we continued sailing at 3-4kts – we would not get into Norfolk until after night fall which is really dangerous. We decided to keep motoring.




At the helm in my sexy over-the-glasses polarized sunglasses. I had ordered a prescription pair but they hadn't arrived on time. Regardless of how aweful they are, I am very thankful to have them. The glare off the water in combination with the wind in our faces is giving us wind burn not only on our faces but in our eyes!!. Steve's eyes have been affected much more than mine so we can only imagine what kind of shape we would have been in without the polarized lenses.


I had a little visitor take a rest on our pushpit this morning. I was about to share my muffin with him/her when he/she flew off again – too cute!! I will name him Chip ;)

October 08, 2011

This is the day that never ends!!! What day is it anyway!?!?

It was another lovely evening. We had great night shifts. We are motoring which means our autopilot can do most of the steering which is very helpful.  The seas throughout the night were anywhere from 2 to 6 feet but the wind was behind us, so were the waves which make for rolly  ride but fun just the same. The waves were perfect to surf on so I tried my best to get Diana to “Hang 10”.

Turning on the motor was smart move. Under sail we were averaging 3 knots but under power we averaged about 6kts – 8knts!! We are making very good time and we will make it into Norfolk this afternoon no problem.

By 1300hrs we were entering the Norfolk Harbour and you know it!! Norfolk Harbour is a busy one as well – lots of container ships being loaded and unloaded. A Navy Base is here as well, lots of SHIPS!


Port Buoy “12” with Fort Wool to the left “the Portsmouth side”


Norfolk side Old Point Comfort


Lots of Naval ships being worked on it Portsmouth



A container ship being loaded on the Norfolk side….looks a little back heavy!


A Transformer-looking crane used to load and unload ships. It’s HUGE!!


We passed this tall ship! We first thought it was a training vessel but it would seems to be a charter boat or a private boat – the flag says “Just Married” – cool!!

We are headed to Scott’s Creek Marina – we stopped there in 2006 and it was such a nice facility that we wanted to stop over again. 

Around 1400hrs, we were boarded by the Coast Guards. Once again we passed with flying colours and off we went. 

We arrived at Scott’s Creek Marina by 1530hrs. What a sight for sore eyes!! We were greeted warmly by everyone. They just finished a 75th Birthday Party for the owner Bill. A liveaboard,  Scott told us to take some food as there was lots left over – How nice!?!??! We were starving too so we couldn’t refuse.


Even cake!!!! YUM!!


We ate it all and had some showers – felt fantastic. Got some laundry done. Scott came by the boat with some welcoming drinks so we sat around and chatted a bit. Another live-aboard, Mat dropped by as well. By 1900hrs we were toast, the guys left, Steve went to bed and I was not far behind.

October 09, 2011

Scott’s Creek is a fantastic facility – reasonable rates 1. 25$ a foot – worth every penny!!  Then laundry facility is free, the showers are super CLEAN and there is internet. Love it here!!




View of the boats!

Scott gave us a ride to town to get some provisions. We took him out for breakfast at IHOP –we parted ways. We got back to the marina, unloaded, got ice – ready again to leave tomorrow.

ICW here we come!!

October 10, 2011

Columbus Day in the U.S – Happy Thanksgiving J

We are headed into the ICW today – we intend to leave around 1300hrs. Our goal is to find a nice anchorage, one that we can hang out in for a couple of days. We really need to unwind after such a hectic week. We are looking forward to spending a couple of days reading a good book.

October 10, 2011

Columbus Day in the U.S – Happy Thanksgiving Canada!J

We are headed into the ICW today – we intend to leave around 1300hrs. Our goal is to find a nice anchorage, one that we can hang out in for a couple of days. We really need to unwind after such a hectic week. We are looking forward to spending a couple of days reading a good book.

We had a nice afternoon making our way to the ICW. The Norfolk Harbor is so interesting. I know I went on and on about it in 2006 so I will keep it short...just a few picks this time J

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Lots of work being done on Navy ShipsHeaded_to_ICW_Norfolk_Harbour_1d_resized.jpg



Anybody need a crane?


Anybody?!?! Lots of construction and deconstruction as there is a ship yard nearby as well.


First Bridge to the ICW - I had to use my mad skills on the VHF radio ;)


Wildlife amongst all this industry – and egret drying his/her wings


Another beautiful bird – name that bird folks!?!?? I’m embarrassed by my ignorance but a book of birds is on my shopping list!


Entrance Sign to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal…it’s dismal alright….


Entrance to Dismal Swamp

You know you have entered the Great Dismal Swamp by the tea coloured water. I seem to remember it has something to do with the sediments in the mud that give it this colour.




Tea-coloured water



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Homes along the Dismal Swamp Entrance
















Anchored North of Deep Creek Lock

The Deep Creek lock closes at 1530hrs, so we anchored just north of it in order to be in a good position to lock through in the morning.





Fettuccini and salad for supper

October 11, 2011


Cloudy day, rain the forecast – temperature high 60’s early 70’s  F.- I’m wearing SHORTS at 0800hrs in the morning J

We are spending our day in the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. It is oldest operating artificial waterway in the United States and is maintained by the Norfolk District U.S Army Corps of Engineers as a navigation resource along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

So, before I get into today’s log, here is a brief history about The Great Dismal Swamp Canal:

It is located in between Norfolk, Virginia and North Carolina.

In 1728 a proposal was made by Colonel William Byrd the 2nd to build the canal in an effort to ease the transportation of goods between the two states. The name “Dismal” is said to have been coined by Colonel Byrd when we surveyed the land in 1728 and found the area repulsive. Construction on both ends of the canal began 60 years later in 1793.

The canal was dug completely by hand and most of the labor was done by slaves. The slaves became so familiar with the swamp during this period that it became a haven for runaways (it was also known to be the home to large colonies of runaway slaves in the anti-slavery era, prior to the Civil War).

By 1796 construction stopped because progress was slow and expensive. The canal was later completed and officially opened in 1805 but plagued with problems. The water level was so low that they could only allow flat boats and log rafts through delivering shipments of logs, shingles and other wood products. Hardly the trade route they had envisioned. During periods of drought, the canal would be closed altogether – a problem the canal still has to this day. Eventually the owners would give up trying to maintain it and eventually sell it.

Tibits of History: 

·         Irish Poet Sir Thomas Moore visited the area and wrote a ballad about a love affair called “The Lake of the Great Dismal” 

·         Harriet Beecher Stowe penned the novel “Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp” 

·         Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was inspired to write the poem “The Slave in the Dismal Swamp” 

·         The James Adams’ Floating Theatre made many a performance down the Great Dismal Swamp. These performances inspired Edna Ferber to write the novel “Showboat” which later became a musical. 

·         In the 1820’s a hotel call the “Halfway House” was built on the state line between Virginia and North Carolina. It became a popular spot for marriages and duels. People escaping the law would just walk to the other side of the hotel to avoid being captured in either state. It is also said that Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Raven” during one of his stays here. Today, the canal is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic Landmark and is also noted as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. In 2004, the canal was included in the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program

(The above information taken from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, Cruising into History pamphlet)




Steve and I entered the lock at about 0845hrs, followed by another sailboat. Lock Master Robert greeted us with big smiles and gave us instructions. We remembered Robert from 2006. He is known as the best conch shell player ever! His office and grounds are charming, to say the least. He has definitely made it his own by planting a garden where he displays his many conch shells generously given to him by cruisers passing through. He has been a lock master here for most of his career. He invited us out of our boats to have some coffee and cake. The crew from the other sailboat had not known of Robert, so he played a shell for them.


Robert playing the conch



His lovely garden with banana trees!! Robert takes them out when it gets cooler and brings them home. I can’t wait to see if there are any bananas next year.



Steve enjoying the show with another Canadian cruiser, Pierre who is from the Richelieu area in Quebec. He makes this trip every year and always spends a few days with Robert. He said the coffee is really good so he finds it hard to leave. After tasting Robert’s coffee – I tend to agree.


Steve and I were thinking of getting to Elizabeth City today but before leaving the lock, Robert cautioned us that there were more than 16 boats ahead of us. Apparently, due to the high winds yesterday, the boats that were currently there could not enter the Albermarle Sound and had to stay another day. No worries for Steve and I – gives us an excuse to find an anchorage and relax for a day or two.

We made a plan to head to Goat Island (mile 43 of the ICW) – about 10 miles from Elizabeth City. Good anchorage and well protected. 

The Dismal Swamp is really pretty for about an hour…but gets boring fast…I think I will do some cooking…


Deep Creek Bridge – right after the lock. The lock masters have to open the lock then drive to the bridge to open it as well to let us through.


It pretty much looks like this for the entire canal….40 miles or so…Dismal_Swamp_Narrow_1a_resized.jpg

We met two other BIG cruisers…very narrow…no room to pass.


The feeder ditch from Lake Drummond – this is how they control or try to control the water level in the canal. When the water is low, the block off the entrance to the lake to try and keep the water in the canal.






“Superintendent’s House” I don’t think he lives here anymore ;) Dismal_Swamp_Boarder_resized.jpg

Border of Virginia and North Carolina – the “Halfway Hotel” would have been built around here. (I was in the cabin cooking when Steve went by the “Welcome to North Carolina” side….) It’s get pretty boring so while Steve was at the helm, I started cooking. In the theme of being in the south, I’m making cornbread and chili.


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South Mills Bridge and Lock….end of the Great Dismal Canal



The Dismal Swamp becoming the Pasquotank River

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Still very swampy……..



Entering the twists and turns of the Pasquotank River



Anchored behind Goat Island – Mile 43

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…with a boat on either side.


Anybody hungry!?!? I have enough for 8 people!!!!

October 12, 2011

Nothing to report J We relaxed, napped, read books and made plans for Elizabeth City tomorrow or the next day.