Day 149 - Elizabeth City, North Carolina
19:00 hrs - October 27th, 2007
A Dismal Journey

Yesterday we left Norfolk, Virginia and entered the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) - a nautical highway that runs down the east coast of America, last exit, Key West Florida, over 1,200 miles away. As we motored out of Tidewater Marina, mile marker 'zero' on the ICW, I felt an overwhelming urge to do a little dance at the helm. Catherine looked up at me from the cabin and rolled her eyes, probably thinking that I had drunk too much of the potent, eight-bean coffee blend we had bought back in Annapolis, but I was really just happy and overcome with excitement. See, we have officially begun our journey south.

We've navigated the first 51 miles of the ICW, 22 of which were through the Dismal Swamp. With locks at both ends, the Dismal Swamp is a manmade canal that only carries 6 feet of water. We ploughed through green slime, touched the bottom once, and heard countless, deep-based thumps, as we hit submerged logs along the way.

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Robert, the lock-keeper at the northern entrance, played us a little ditty on a conch shell while we were waiting for the lock to flood. Moving his empty hand back and forth in front of the shell like a trombone, it appears he spends much of his time between scheduled lock openings practicing. The garden in front of his little lock-keepers office was lovingly decorated with dozens of conch shells sent by grateful cruisers from around the world. I asked him to play New York, New York and we promised to send him a new shell when we get down to the Caribbean. It rained practically the entire time but we loved every green, slimy, muddy, swampy second of it.

Dream Time: Changed both primary and secondary fuel filters. Changed fan belt. Topped-up transmission fluid. Fixed automatic bilge pump. Tightened prop-shaft stuffing box and replaced hose clamps. Fixed steaming light bulb by spreaders. Measured mast (55') and installed another fan in the aft cabin.

Day 143 - Tangier Island, Virginia
21:10 hrs - October 21st, 2007
Tangier Island, The Land That Time Forgot

Apologies for the few days of radio silence but we have just left the land that time forgot, where until very recently (2006) you could still bury your family in the front garden, so we had no cell phone or internet signal for a while.  One of the most remarkable things about Tangier Island is that it is so close to the rest of the world but you would never know it.  It’s one of a group of three tiny islands in the Chesapeake Bay.  It’s only 2 miles long and still populated almost entirely by generations of the original British families that came here to settle in the 1600’s. Sadly the island is slowly being taken over by the sea, and its highest point is a mere 5 feet above sea level. It was reported that during a severe hurricane here the entire island was 10 feet underwater! The primary source of income here is crab, but unfortunately there are fewer crabs than there are crab fishermen these days, so it’s a tough way to make a living, but there are about 600 islanders who believe in crabs, so they stay.  I’m not a big ‘crab on a plate’ fan, so I think it’s a little ironic that after my first pitiful attempt at crab eating in St. Michaels  I find myself on an island that puts crabs on, in, and under everything!  It’s was just like that Monty Python “Spam” sketch, “we got spam & egg, spam & chips, spam & spam etc. etc. you get the picture. Karma I guess?  The island next door (Smith Island) is also somewhat predisposed to crabs, but they are rather better known for an extravagant many layered vanilla cake with tons of chocolate icing?  How come I get the island with the crabs? Karma sucks!

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Day 136 - St. Michaels, Maryland
21:19 hrs - October 14th, 2007
Crab Country

Sporting our new haircuts (thanks Thom and Isabel at "House of Ebbitt" - if you're ever in Annapolis and want a fabulous haircut - look them up) Catherine and I left Spa Creek and sailed across the Chesapeake Bay to St. Michaels. We dinned at the Crabs Legs restaurant for lunch today and decided to try the local delicacy - Blue Crab. Catherine was hesitant at first and wouldn't even touch the crab in front of her, but after some gentle coaxing she was soon hitting the crab so hard, she broke her little wooden mallet. Lunch was gruesome - far too much work, very messy with little return (except for a stained white linen shirt and a mild stomach ache). The locals thought we were deranged I'm sure, but we don't care anymore. We eased our suffering by having ice cream and spending the afternoon relaxing with Dream Time on a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Dream Time: Topped-up water and diesel tanks before leaving Annapolis. Replaced propane tank. Changed engine oil and filter. Installed AIS to chartplotter, installed LED cabin lights, v-berth fan, solar powered anchor lights and fishing pole holder. Bought and installed spare diesel tanks on starboard side.

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Day 130 - Washington, DC
23:29 hrs - October 8th, 2007
Our Nation's Capital

Ever since I became a US citizen, there’s an image that always made me want to see Washington DC ‘in real life’. It was a scene in Forest Gump when Forest and his unrequited love Jenny find each other entirely by chance at a Vietnam anti-war rally in “our nations capital”. They run to each other and embrace in the reflecting pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial. I so love the hopefulness of such a sweet and joyful moment in a time so full of fear and change.  Today Neville and I walked the entire length of Constitution Avenue all the way from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building, stopping along the way to see the real life Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, and a pit stop at the White House to peer through the gates.  We didn’t run and embrace in the reflecting pool even though it was 92 degrees today, pretty hot for October? And we’re probably not allowed in the pool anyway, but we did get a sense of the change that happened here back then, and what enormous potential people have to change the world for good or bad.  Neville and I are both American citizens now, and we have always wanted to visit Washington DC, but what makes this visit perfect is that we are visiting as we sail past on our voyage south, on our way to see the rest of the world. 

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Day 125 - Annapolis, Maryland
20:17 hrs - October 3rd, 2007

A few weeks ago, whilst taking an afternoon stroll on the boardwalk in Cape May,
we met a chap peering into the blue sky through his binoculars. Curious, I asked
what he was looking at, “Bald Eagles” he replied. The man was from England and enthusiastically explained the migration habits of the Bald Eagle for as long as I would listen. It seems they migrate south to the Caribbean this time of year.
Some even fly as far down as Argentina.

Today we’re anchored in the Spa Creek, Annapolis, surrounded by boats flying flags from countries around the world - Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France and of course America - all, like the Bald Eagle, on a migration south. Some boats will spend their winter in the Bahamas, some will venture further into the Caribbean and a few, like us, will continue sailing, perhaps even around the world. You can feel the excitement of dreams being realized here, a camaraderie between adventurers. It feels like our journey has really begun!

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