Have you ever heard the expression “it’s so hot that I’m melting” Well I am pretty sure it originated here in Bayboro, NC.
Once Chris (from Sailing Avocet <— check them out) flew back to glorious California, Jon and I kept busy on “DQ”, “Prism” and “Penta” till it was time to get the hell out of dodge. So while the summer hurricane season was starting to ramp up, we hurried our little bodies to finish Prism’s dodger canvas, the refit of our Fatty Knees, the rebuild of our gearbox and to prep the tent/ DQ during our absence for possible hurricane conditions.
Check out the blog post about our Fatty Knees “Penta” and her full refit by clicking HERE
When leaving a boat in the yard during hurricane season there are a few more steps to take. DQ has an extra layer of protection being in the tent, but if a large surge comes, the tent could fill with water. During Hurricane Florence in 2018 this area experienced a 13 foot storm surge. The smaller boats in the yard lifted off their stands and floated into the trees nearby. We were lucky that Prism was far up into the yard, yet she still had water half way up her keel. The good news was that the water level at the tent was minimal, reaching not even a foot and it did not make it into the attached shop.
Back to 2020, when we were getting the tent ready for DQ, we moved everything off the floor and secured the tent down to its floor attachment. The tent is designed with wind flaps to allow the heavy winds to flow through. So we locked her up, said good luck.
North Bound with New Crew
Once we had everything put away we loaded up Prism and set off for the 3 days journey towards the Chesapeake Bay. We have a track record not to do this trip alone, and we are sticking to it. When we did it last in Oct 2019, we had Jon’s mom with us, and this time we had our friend Kailey with us.
Kailey wanted to join us for a few weeks aboard to see if sailing and cruising was for her. She was thinking about buying a boat, but had never been sailing on a “big” boat before.
The weather was hot, like very hot. Jon had the smart idea to bring the red blower fans to keep the air moving while we motored up the very still and stagnate ICW.
We had smiles on our sweaty faces and cold beers in our hands as we filled Kaylie in on what it is like to sail. We made sure that when something needed to be addressed, changed or tented to, we showed or even had Kaylie do the task. At the first opportunity to raise the sails we did! We crossed the Albemarle sound with perfect conditions. Lucky for us, the weather worked out for us to make it to Coinjock in time for their famous prime rib dinner. What started out as a perfect day, turned into a horrendous night.
Laying in bed, tied to a safe dock, the AC unit plugged in, fat and happy from our big meal, we received a phone call from a panicked little brother saying “mom was in a car accident.” For the next hours, we were on the phone calling every possible hospital that Momma Neely could have been transported to. The only information we had was; roughly where the accident took place and that it was a head on collision (both cars doing 55+ mph). Those hours felt like days while we waited for one of the incoming Jane Does to be identified as Jon’s mom.
Once we had confirmation that she was in the hospital and alive, we took a breath. Her foot was badly injured and her body was banged up, bad. To top it all off, because of the Covid-19 rules, no one could visit her in the hospital. Our entire family felt so helpless knowing we cold not be there for her while she battled the possibilities of loosing her foot. To say that we did not sleep well that night would be an understatement.
* the driver in the red car was driving under the influence and without a license, they had 2 persons in the car as well. Whom, one of which needed to be helivaced to the hospital. The driver of the red car had minor injuries while all other persons involved had serious and life threating injuries.
DO NOT BE AN IDIOT! DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!
We were not ready for the next wave of bad news we learned the following day.
“The National Hurricane Center reports Hurricane Isaias made landfall in southern North Carolina around 11:10 p.m. Monday near Ocean Isle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane.”
Jeff Orrock, Meteorologist
13News Now Staff, Associated Press
“Hurricane Isaias is a serious storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia as early as this weekend.”
Gov. Ralph Northam
Gov. of Virginia
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with the track still, but there’s an increased chance for tropical storm force winds to come through the area”
Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Wakefield office.
We woke up the next morning to learn that Hurricane Isasias was coming right for us. Luckily, we had a few days to prepare and discuss where we wanted to weather out the storm. At first we thought we would head to the dismal swamp, but in preparation for the storm surge the canal dropped the water level to just below 6ft. We would not get very far with that kind of depth, so that was out.
We thought about hauling ass up the rest of the ICW, do an over night up the bay and seek shelter in Baltimore, but after a quick check with reality, that idea was also out. Next up was to make our way up a creek we have never been in before, anchor and wish for the best. I did not feel to comfortable with that idea either. It would have taken all the time we had until the storm to get situated in the unknown creek, then if it didn’t “do it” for us as a safe anchorage we would be up shits creak with a hurricane baring down on us.
After many flustered talks about what ifs, we decided to not push our luck and grab a slip in a marina with brand new floating docks in Norfolk.
We arrived into Norfolk with a day to spare before the hurricane was due to hit our area. So, we hit the town to see what this town was all about, Covid-19 style. Nothing was open, but it was a good way to stretch our legs. Once we were back at the boat, we prepped for hurricane force winds. We doubled up our dock lines, tied down our stack pack, made sure Penta was tied down nice and snug and had plenty of fenders out, just incase.
Right before it hit Norfolk, Isasias was downgraded into a tropical storm, hitting our area with sustained winds in the 60’s and gusts into the 70’s. The height of the storm hit in the wee hours of the morning, and by 10am the sun was out and all was calm.
We used the drastic change in the weather to walk to the store to provision and get the heck out of the marina before we would be charged for another night. With our pantry and fridge full, we headed out to Hampton Roads for the night. It was a blissful sail across the James river, dolphin escorts and all!
Summer Bliss in the Chesapeake
Sailing up the Chesapeake Bay in the summer can be quite exhilarating. Between all the shipping ships, the weekend boaters, and crab pots, there are the nasty thunderstorms that come out of nowhere to keep an eye out for.
Our first stop up the Bay was Yorktown. This town is full of history and none of us had even been there. We spent the day walking the streets and even got some ice cream!
Next, we headed to Deltaville. We wanted the chance to meet another couple that has been working on their boat as long as we had, no wait longer. Sailing TRIM. If you think Jon and I worked hard, get ready to be very impressed!
Our sail up from Yorktown started out beautiful, that was until a nasty thunderstorm developed right on top of us . As the wall of rain approached us, we took down our sails and waited to get hammered. We were only another 20 minutes out from being able to enter into Fishing Bay. Loosing all visibility made it hard to proceed into the anchorage, so we figured we would hold our ground till the storm passed. 10 Minutes later, still in the thick of it, 15, 20, 30, 45 minutes and still no end in site.
I finally said, why don’t we just make towards the outer anchorage in front of Jackson Creek, as we have been there before and had a GPS track right into it. We could drop the hook and wait for this thing to blow over. That is what we did. Then, 2 hours later the sun came back out which was perfect to move around the bend up the Piankatank river so we could anchor again in front of Fishing Bay Marina.
The next day we walked our selves into town, that was until we realized that walking on the side of the road in Deltaville is kind-of a death wish. So we contacted TRIM and asked for a pick up. Agata came to our rescue and drove us the remaining mile or so to the boatyard. Once we arrived we were met by Alex, Trim’s Australian Captain.
We spent a few hours distracting them from the work they needed to finish, while we talked about boatyard life, products, lessons learned and blood lost. We asked Agata for a lift home, and then invited them over for dinner aboard a floating vessel. When they showed up for dinner, we had a few drinks, then ate dinner on the foredeck. Knowing we all had to get moving in the morning, we said our good nights and prepped for our departure in the morning.
When we left Fishing Bay, the wind picked up hard out of the north. To avoid bashing into the square chop that developed out of nowhere, we pulled into the lee of the next point up on the Rappahannock. We dropped the hook and waited a few hours till the wind died down. Due to our late departure, we only made it up a few miles to drop the hook for the night in Ingram Bay.
Although we were only in this spot for the night, we took advantage from the lack of homes and light pollution to look at the star filled sky. Anchored behind Sandy Point, Kaylie and I laid on deck with the Stars App open on the iPad talking about all the different consolations we could see and want to see someday while we travel.
Next stop, Solomons Island! This is a place we had never been to and have only heard great things from other sailors. Plus, Jon was very excited to possibly meet/see John Kretschmer. We planned on staying here for a week, as we were ready to stop moving and Kaylie needed to work (remotely).
When we got the hook in the thick mud, we received a message via FB from a couple who live on their boat in Spring Cove Marina, which we were anchored directly across from. They had been fans of our YouTube channel and wanted the chance to meet us. So we launched Penta and headed in.
We quickly became friends with our, (as they like to call them selves) “stalkers”. Jon and I would take Penta out for daily sails up and down Back Creek, just to get back to the boat and do it again but on paddle boards. When Kaylie would get off of work at 5, we would head into the marina to hang and play with our new friends.
The week passed quickly with many games played, a lot of frisbee throwing and many more friends made. AND Jon did in fact get to meet John Kretschmer after stalking his boat on the hard for days. Jon quickly started to call the renowned sailor and writer “Johnny K”. Which I am not so sure he took to, but we have kept in touch so it must not have been that bad.
John Kretschmer, aka Johnny K!, has been an idol for Jon sense we started sailing. We both read his books and take his experience seriously. If we could afford it, we would hands down get on one of his serious weather sail courses! It was an honor to meet not only him, but his wife as well. We hope to share an anchorage with them in the future and to share many more drinks and laughs.
Next up, Annapolis.
Our sail up to Annapolis was beautiful and warm. As we approached the Severn River, a dark luminous system started to engulf our path. We prepared for the worst and could see the wind/ rain lines dance in front of us. It was with some force of nature, or just the pure will of my mind that the nasty system moved all around us but never affected us directly. We made it up the Severn, made the turn into Spa Creek, through the swing bridge and dropped the hook in the very back of the creek, thinking the whole time, we are going to get clobbered any second now. BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED! We made it through that whole system with ZERO rain! That never happens!
The next day is when we had to say our goodbyes to Kaylie, as she had to get back to work and the real world. So Jon and her hitched a ride with our friends Scott and Caroline back to North Carolina so Jon could grab our car ( cause apparently we needed it up there) and so that Kaylie could grab her Van, aka Mo.
Once Jon made it back to Annapolis, we did almost nothing. We soaked in the sun, went on many dinghy sails, paddled the crap out of our SUPs and worked on little projects here and there. By the end of August, Shannon’s birthday was approaching and our friends Derek and Christina ( from St. Marys) were still stuck in FL dealing with a ripped main and bad weather. So my birthday plans to have a fun shindig with them was put on hold. Shucks. With that news, we switched it up to spend the birthday in Baltimore with Scott and Caroline and Kaylie was going to come hang as well.
We love coming to Baltimore, the sail up from Annapolis was a sporty one with wind that was more gusts than a steady breeze. I had a blast working the main sheet while Prism sailed with a bone in her teeth. Once we made it into the harbor, we pulled into the slip next to our friends and prepared for amazing food, good laughs and loads of drinking.
Kaylie arrived the day before my birthday and the 3 of us went out to a sushi dinner in a very empty Fells Point. The next day, the 5 of us walked through the more crowded streets, the farmers market, then up to Patterson’s Park for a few rounds of bocce ball. I can’t remember who won, it was probably Scott, but I will not admit that. On our way back down to the marina, we stopped by Michael’s Roman Catholic Church for an afternoon prayer. Nah, just kidding, the historic abandoned church has been turned into the Ministry of Brewing. Because of Covid-19, the brewery was not packed, which is a good thing as I can only imagine how loud it would be at full occupancy. We had a few beers and took in the beautiful architecture of the old church.
Be sure to check out MINISTRY OF BREWING
Before we knew it, it was time to start heading south again. We said our goodbyes and set sail for the Chesapeake Bay. It was however only September, so when I say south, I mean just back to Annapolis.
California Creek Fire
Let’s just add another disaster at home into the mix for this summer, Yep, how about a raging wild fire that was way too close to home for comfort. Our whole family was still in shock and dealing with Debbie’s car accident from the beginning of August. Due to her injuries, the doctors told her she should not go home because of the altitude. Debbie was in the hospital for weeks, then she could not even go home once she was discharged. Luckily our family has amazing friends who opened their home to Debbie while she healed at lower altitudes.
At this point Debbie had not been home for over a month, people had been to the house to check in on Leia ( Mom’s cat), but that was about it. When the mandatory evacuations went out, there was no way Debbie could get to her house to grab the “must haves” from her home of almost 30 years. Once again with the help of the amazing mountain community and friends, Tess ( Jons sister, once she had evacuated her home) were able to grab the “must haves” from her home. Sadly after hours of calling, the kitty, Leia was just to afraid to come to aid.
We watched from 3000 miles away as the fire ripped though the area with such speed that at time fire tornados were reported. Many homes were lost, but due to the efforts of firefighters and volunteers, most were saved. The fire took 4 homes on the street behind Debbie’s, and the fire line came feet from Tess’s back porch. Our family was extremely lucky with no loss, even the Princess Leia came home after a few weeks. Our heart goes out to our friends who lost everything.
The Creek Fire was a large wildfire which started on September 4, 2020 near Shaver Lake, California. The fire burned 379,895 acres (153,738 ha) and was declared 100% contained on December 24, 2020. … The fire necessitated the rescue of hundreds of people by National Guard helicopters.
Cause: Under investigation
Total area: 379,895 acres (153,738 ha)
Location: Northern California, United States: Fresno County; Madera County
Back in Annapolis, MD
We had an uneventful sail back to Annapolis, and made our way to the back of spa creek. At this point in September the Annapolis Boat Show was still on the books and we were planning on sticking around for it. Going to this boat show has been on Jon and I’s bucket list sense we started this adventure almost 12 years ago. To keep busy during Covid-19 times, we did a lot more dinghy sailing, SUPing and even helped other HC33 owners with a few projects. We also got out on the water and spent time with our friends Dave and Laruen on their Baba 30′. We sailed with them and rafted up for a night while anchored in Mill Creek.
After weeks of the boat show yo-yo (Ha, that is fun to say) it was officially announced that the 2020 Annapolis Boat Show was canceled! SUCH A LET DOWN, but hey, we are all in this together right…. In other news, I got a hair cut for my birthday, first one in YEARS!
With that news, we decided to start making our way back down the bay stopping in our favorite spots and saying hello to friends we have made along the way. As much as we just wanted to stay out and play more, or even continue heading south to warm clear Caribbean waters, we needed to get back to DQ and finish what we started.
Time to Get Back to Work
At this point in time, we know this stretch of the ICW pretty darn well. We know how far we can push, where we can cut markers and where to avoid. So the trip down was calm and easy with not that many people heading south, which is weird for this time of year.
We ended up staying an extra night at anchor on the North River due to a massive invasion of Mayflies. Prism was covered, we tried to “shoo” them away, but we found we were just breathing them in (yuk) more than doing any actual “shooing”. With a hasty retreat, we stayed inside and gave Prism a deep clean.
Dawn came with a fresh start and a clean boat, the mayflies did there thing and left massive amounts of dead bodies. A few buckets of water down the decks and we were back to normal and underway. We had perfect conditions for sailing down the river, across the Albemarle sound, through the swing bridge, and down the Alligator River. We did not have to adjust the sails at all till we rounded the G45 marker to line up with the Alligator River- Pungo River Canal, where we took down the sails and started up the iron spinnaker.
Sadly at this point we really started to notice that our addition of an oil cooler to our TMC60 gearbox was not enough to help the damage that had already been done to our “2016 practically new” gearbox. It looks like we are going to have to add another project to Prisms list. Yeeeeaaah
It was not all doom and gloom as we made our familiar way back up the Bay River and to HBY, this time around, our friends from St. Marys, Derek and Christina were going to be at the yard with their boat as well! Our plan is to help and support each other, to give motivation when needed, advice when asked, and beer when deserved, or just wanted. SV FIN has a list of projects they need completed, luckily not nearly as long as DQ’s, but we all plan on heading out together when we are ready!