Friday, August 5, 2016

Links to Looper Blogs removed

The blog has received  unusually high traffic (10 times the traffic we had at the peak of the trip) from countries know for Internet corruption. Being a little paranoid of the unknown I removed links to Blogs owned by Looper friends so they wouldn't be exposed to any potential risk. Cheers, Dave

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Closing Our Great Loop adventure in Solomons MD- Dave and Betsy

Well this is it... we departed Crisfield around 0815. We knew the Chesapeake was going to be a little bumpy the first few hours due the high winds the last few days. The winds were slowly subsiding overnight and we were counting on that trend to continue. We did our final disembark maneuver with Bets pulling the lines and letting Dave know when Motor Vessel FRYEDAZE was free from her lines and could slide out of the slip at Somers Cove and head out the harbor towards the Tangier Sound. It was quiet on the bridge as we finished our second cup of coffee. Both of us wondering what life may be like the next few months as we head home to the dirt house. We headed out and made the turn north up the Tangier Sound. The winds were 10-15 knots and the spray for the first two hours turned FRYEDAZE into a saltsicle. The wind slowly decayed and the seas flattened as we headed north passing many crabbers out working to make their catch for the day. The trip was 54 miles and would take us almost seven hours. This was plenty of time to make special memories as we finished our adventure. We hit the north end of the Tangier Sound and headed west to the bay. Once in the bay the auto pilot was set for a straight line to the mouth of the Patuxent River. As we approached the Patuxent- Dave found his specially designed cruising mix on the iPod- Brandy, Ride Captain Ride, Edmond Fitzgerald, Son of a Sailor, I'm your Captain and more. We cruised through in the river on the southern side, which we never do but it prolonged the trip and the views of Solomons. As we entered the harbor and slowed to no wake speed, we both felt as if we never left and all the while feeling that we should put starboard engines astern while port were forward and spin Fryedaze back to the Chesapeake and just continue the adventure. -sigh
We hit the dock a Solomons Yachting Center and Janelle and Mike Martin were there to see us in. We were so excited to see them that tying up didn't seem so second nature and I was fumbling all over myself with the lines. Between tears (Betsy) and a cold one (Dave and Mike) it wasn't feeling too terrible to be in our slip.

We were very surprised when we got a text that we were going to see our good friends Denise and Bob Pace as well. The day just kept getting better and better. It wasn't long before Robbie and Jo Ann McCready arrived with our truck so we could get home.! Soon the party was in full steam as Bob, Denise, Sandy, Frani, Allyson and Jack arrived. The champagne flowed and we had our flag changing ceremony from white (in progress) to the Gold burgee signifying completion of the Great Loop. This change was made all the more special because we shared putting on our AGLCA burgee with many of these same wonderful friends just over a year ago. (we missed you Darrell Weber!)

The last 13 months have been some of the best times of our lives. And God willing we WILL do this wonderful adventure again someday! Next summer- the Triangle Loop! 

 Sunrise over Crisfield. Time to move out and head home.
Passing the Tangier Ferry as we head out of the harbor.
 Goodbye Crisfield you know we will be back!
 The remains of a Menhaden Fertilizer Plant that burnt down in 1932.
 I think these guys are dragging for oysters.

Sure hope he is far enough away from the un-exploded ordinance of Bloodsworth Island.
Construction at Dominions Cove Point plant. The white domes of the tanks are the first thing that comes into view from miles away.
 The Thomas Johnson Bridge lets us know we are almost home.
 This guy came flying bye us in the river. What a cool looking boat. It looks like it should be in one of those Mediterranean based James Bond movies.
 Hey look! They put out the welcome mat for us.

Ready or "knot" Solomons Yachting Center here we come!

One last kick with starboard reverse and FRYEDAZE tushey will be against the dock.
Mike helping us get all tied up while Bets is wondering why we aren't moving faster.

One last time for shore power. Plug me in baby!

Allyson and Betsy on the champagne trail. "Allyson it makes me sad when I run out of champagne".

Janelle and Betsy all smiles for the after docking celebration.

Denise and Betsy, there is nothing like sharing our homecoming with great friends.
We can't wipe these smiles off our faces. (or the tears off my sunglasses!)
Our new back porch view.
Betsy can't give up the white AGLCA flag

WOW! after 13 months she still likes me, go figure.
Our first returning to Solomons sunset.

Rob and Jo Ann brought the truck to us. We loaded it up and headed to the "Dirt House".
Rob, Jo Ann, Betsy, Jon, Bonnie, Dave - good friends hangin out after a nice meal at The Lighthouse.

Ben says old people should not take selfies. We are getting better at it, but a sixer is tough.

7 stay aboard couples and cruiser: Robbie Jo Ann,  Dale Pam, Deb Chuck, Hearst Deena, Dave Gail,  Dan Tina, Billy Sandy, Jimmy Roz, Darrell Wendy
21 additional visiting friends; Jon Bonnie, Greg, Ron Kay, Jeff Karen, Bob Bonnie, Jeff Lisa, Bill Virginia, Nancy, Tammy Bob, Laurie, Sherry,Blake, Kim Sexton
Pictures taken     9106+ (probably close to 10000 if we add what was taken with                                   phones)

Locks 114
Free Dockage days 9
Anchorage days 54
Marina days 321
Total days 389
Days back home 17 (in PA)
Lock Walls  5
Miles 6,431
Fuel 2684 gal
Engine Hours 825.2 hrs
AVG $/gal $2.47
Avg Miles/gal 2.4
Avg Gal/hr 3.23
Avg fuel price first 6 months $2.74/gal
Avg fuel price last 7 months $2.01/gal
Transient dockage cost 2.5 X fuel cost
Blog page views  28901
Blog audience
United States
1 Torn Knee
1 Detached Retina
1 Kidney Stone
Bent Prop repair
Fuel tank leak (top STB)
Stb Engine water pump replacement (small leak)
Stb Fuel lift pump replacement (small leak)
Battery combiner replacements 5X (various problems)
Engine start battery replacement (end of life 5 yrs)
Solar panel replacement (failed)
Domestic water pump replacement (cracked casing leak)
Inverter replacement ( yard inadvertantly tied to shore power)
Pulled toilet due to wash cloth dropped in it.
Replaced main battery combiner switch (internal springs failed)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cape Charles, Onancock, Crisfield

Well Fryedaze is starting to smell the barn. You can feel the giddy up as her bow moves slowly up and down through the swells of the Chesapeake. Fryedaze and Dave are ready for some time at home but Betsy has thrown out an anchor that the boat has to drag the rest of the way. She loves the boat, the cruising, the adventure, challenge, the cruisers and the friend we meet and the control of what we do next. The three stops before we get home have been picked based on previous cruising. We enjoy the eastern shore and Cape Charles, Onancock and Crisfield are nice stops to chill out on our way north. The ride across the wide ope stretch went well. The Chesapeake was kind and the winds were down. At Cape Charles we missed the MTOA friends by a day due to weather. Our MTOA mentors and friends Jim and Talley met us on the dock at Oyster Bay Farm Marina.  It was good to see them and catch up. We hung out for two day and headed to Onancock for a one day stop. We had a nice dinner at The Mallard and enjoyed the quiet of the Onancock Warf. The next day we headed out for Crisfield Somers Cover Marina. Several folk thought we shouldnt go due to wind predictionts. We knew that the forecast was for high winds after 11am so we just headed out early and got in before the winds picked up, easy peasy.  Crisfield has an awesome facility in a town that time has passed by. At one time the 700 slip marina had a waiting list. Now there are very few boats in the marina. The facilities are great but no one is there. Most of the restaurants are closed. Maybe one day the town will come back to life.
  We had to stay two day in Crisfield due to winds. It was blowing 25 knots with gusts to 35 and Fryedaze wouldn't fair well in those seas. We walked the town, checked out the the town docks and had breakfast at a nice restaurant near the docks. Somers Cove is a peaceful place and we always relax there. The next day is HOME!

 Hospital Ship moored on our way out of Norfolk harbor
 LHA 3 was built in Ingall Litton Shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi. LHA 1-5 where in the yards when Dave was there 35 years ago!!
 Lots of ships in at the base, more than we have ever seen
 One of those sneaky subs hidding behind the nets.

 Cape Charles waterfront

 We have bad feelings about these guys. They are the Menhaden boats out of Reedville. There are at least five of these guys that use ocean fishing practises in the bay with spotter planes to harvest the Menhaden. Maryland doesn't allow the to enter Maryland water. 

 These boats ferry people and supplies to Smith and Tangier Island. The boat in the front is the US Mail boat, but it also carries crabs.

Ferry to Smith Island

Sunset Crisfield

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dismal Swamp Canal, Top Rack, Norfolk

Our time on the Loop is quickly coming to an end. We have been in familiar cruising waters since New Bern (except for our side trip up to Washington!)

We finally got to spend the night inside the Dismal Swamp tied to the Visitor's Center Free Wall.! We made the 8:30 bridge and lock opening at South Mills so we could be early to the free wall. We had attempted to stay there two other times but it was always so full when we came through that we ended up having to stay on the fender wall at South Mills. Not this time! When we arrived at the center there were already two boats tied up. A sailboater came and took my lines and helped me secure the boat to the wall. I am always so grateful for help especially since we had to pull into the middle of the two boats. The sailboat left shortly after we had tied up and eventually three other boats came onto the wall. Two of our fellow MTOA member boats rafted together behind us and High Cotton rafted on to us. We enjoyed them and their little dog KiKi. They would need to board and walk around our boat in order to get off onto the land. The guidebook says that if you are not willing to have other boats rafted to you and allow them to get to shore that you should not stay here. We have seen so many boats rafted together that it has almost closed the Swamp (across). This time of year that wasn't a problem.

We enjoyed docktails after dinner with all the boaters on the wall except for our new Canadian Looper friends who were getting an early start (6:00 am) so they could tie to Deep Creek wall and walk across road to Food Lion to provision before the 8:30 bridge/lock opening. We enjoyed catching up on MTOA news and enjoying a very quiet night in the swamp! It is so surreal to be on your boat at a roadside Visitor's Center where people get out of their cars and to stretch their legs walk down and look at the boats. I am so very glad we had this experience!

We were going to try and get to the 1:30 bridge opening at the north end of the swamp so we left just before 10:00. We were following Amanda J a 42' Tug that we had stayed behind at Washington NC. He was still single handling the boat and must have hit the 8:30 lock opening at the South end of the swamp.

Boaters always need to be advised when they traverse the Dismal Swamp they could potentially hit stumps or logs that are stirred up from the bottom. We entered the Swamp with a little too much speed (6.3 mph) and we did bump something pretty hard as soon as we left the South Mills Lock. We continued on to hit four more objects- the most we had ever hit on all our three trips combined! But thankfully when Dave was able to open it up after leaving the Swamp- we did not seem to have any vibration so hopefully we did not bend any of the props!

We got to Top Rack and took on the cheapest fuel of the trip! $1.83 a gallon for diesel! This marina also has a deal that if you eat at their restaurant- the Amber Lantern your dockage is free. Pretty good deal for us and them- as the restaurant is kind of pricey and it is easy to spend your required $75 at the restaurant. The food is really good there so we don't mind at all!

We were in no hurry the next morning to get up and moving as we were only going 6 miles into Waterside Marina in Norfolk. So we got to catch up on some boat chores and then got underway. It was a very hot day so when we got here we changed into cooler clothes and decided to walk around the city and then have lunch at Chili's- Dave's favorite which he hasn't had since Sarasota! We really aren't shoppers and really don't need anything so we only walked around the mall a little before walking towards the Nautilus and the battleship. We have come to Norfolk in the summer and fall and are used to bigger crowds walking all around the waterfront. They just weren't around! We thought maybe it would pick up Friday night but it remained pretty quiet- except for a wedding rehearsal on the sailboat American Rover which is parked at the Waterside Marina.

Saturday morning we decided to take the ferry over to the Portsmouth side and walk around. It too was very quiet- very different from the summer time when there are a lot more tourists. We got back to the boat early and then I experienced the best entertainment- all day long. I got to sit up on the bridge and watch 5 different wedding parties throughout the day. Some coming to the waterfront for pictures- (FRYEDAZE will be in some of their shots) and some coming to the large Norfolk tour boats for their actual ceremonies. There was also a prom from 10-2 on the large dinner cruise boat and it was fun seeing all the kids dressed up for the prom. What was really neat was watching some of them play in the water fountains next to the marina. I am not sure some of their mom's would have been too happy with their long, wet gowns when they got home but it sure was fun watching them just be kids! There were two weddings on the dinner cruise boat (afternoon and evening) and one on the paddleboat cruiser.

My favorite wedding was in the evening (the one we watched the rehearsal for the night before). The American Rover sailing vessel is large but limited in the number of guests and the movement on the boat. The bride came to the boat and hid out underneath with her bridesmaids who were beautiful in a very light green color! The groomsmen hung out in the park playing corn hole until it was time for them to board. I got to talk to some of the guests as they walked right behind us! Sadly, we didn't get to see the actual ceremony as they took off and it was performed underway. We knew when it was complete though as the boat fired off it's cannon!  We watched the guests all disembark and the bridge really looked beautiful! (didn't get to see her as she didn't come up until after the boat took off and the ceremony began!) What a neat way to get married!!!!

We are leaving early this morning for Cape Charles (yes I am typing these blogs at 4 am as I just cannot sleep!) It is raining pretty hard now- but hopefully that will let up before we go or I will be in full foul weather gear again! We should get to Solomon's by Friday- but as Dave likes to say I am dragging the anchor as hard as I can to just stay out on the water! I don't want our dream trip to end!

 South Mills Dismal Swamp Lock. Locked up about eight feet to enter the canal. Only one more lock to go. 
Goodbye South Mills. Just a few miles to the visitors center and an evening with other boaters on the free wall.

The Visitors Center is the Highway 17 rest stop and the entrance to the Dismal Swamp State Park visitor center.

 Welcome to Virginee
 We arrived at the Deep Creek bridge a little early so we just tied off to the wall and waited until 1:30pm when the Lock Master came down to open it for us.

This is Lock 114 and our last lock of our Great Loop Trip! That's a lot of up and down. We had two other boats in the lock with us. It will be a while before we hit any locks again.
 This is where you make your choice. Go to Elizabeth City through the Dismal Canal or head towards Great Bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway normal route. The distances are about the same.
 A free overnight stop at the Dismal Swamp Canal visitors center. Its the Rt 17 rest stop and access point to the State park.
After a great dinner at Amber Lantern. 
CVN 77 George Bush
Traffic in Norfolk. Good thing there is lots of room on the river. This is one busy place. Its fun just to listen to the tug operators talk to each other.
Beautiful lens on the Portsmouth waterfront.
Bridge going up! We are standing by to go through.
 The Waterside complex is undergoing a face lift, Heck, its a full off body restoration. They have gutted the entire complex and are tearing down the section that Hooters was in. The waterfront is dead. We were here for a weekend and is was sad, no one was here. Hope 2017 brings back the activity here on the waterfront.

 Look close, there is a sub in there.

 Waterside Marina, not many visitors. High Cotton is the first boat to the right. They spent the night tied to us at the Dismal Visitors center.
Wisconsin is always impressive