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July 8, 2012 / M.E.

Hampton. Virginia

Not many pictures in this post due to issues with my camera but the next post will have plenty I promise!

After leaving Norfolk, we headed to Hampton, Virginia. Hampton is only about a 30 minute drive from Norfolk but when you’re sailing it takes about three to four hours. Ah, sailing…the art of slowing your life down and going where the wind takes you.

A Hampton Shrimp Boat and Lone Crabber

We anchored out right across from Hampton University, one of the first African American schools in the country. During the Civil War, Fort Monroe in Hampton, had been taken over by the Union. Escaped slaves flocked here because a declaration had been made that if they reached the Union lines, they would be free. With an influx in refugees, the army saw a need to educate these newly freed people. They asked a woman named, Mary Peake, to teach the freed African Americans. Peake agreed. Her first lesson was taught under an oak tree that still stands in Hampton today. This same oak tree was the sight of the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It’s amazing to me how tangible our country’s history still is today.

On Saturday night, we stopped in at the city block party. I wasn’t really expecting much as it was a city event and from what I know from past experiences, city events usually don’t draw much of a crowd. So, I was amazed when we turned the corner onto East Queen’s Way and saw a mass of people dancing in front of the stage, sitting in lawn chairs and mingling in the street. I have to admit, The City of Hampton really does know how to throw a party!

Every Saturday in the summer, the city closes the main road, East Queen’s Way, and sets up a stage for the live music. Food vendors come in and set up tents, while locals and tourists flock to the venue to set up chairs that they brought from home or to dance the night away in the street. Of course, Matt and I joined in the fun and spent the evening dancing to the band of the week in the street with a huge crowd of people. It was such a fun way to enjoy the weekend!

I made some homemade postcards while we were in Hampton and I think that they turned out pretty nicely.

This house was across from the anchorage and I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of Longbourn, the Bennet’s house in Pride and Prejudice,  perhaps because I just finished reading a book based on Pride and Prejudice titled Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. The book is a murder mystery based upon the characters and places from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. For anyone who enjoys Jane Austen’s works, I would recommend it. While it is obviously not a Jane Austen novel, the characters are familiar and P.D. James brings them to life once more in this tale of a tragic murder at the Pemberley estate and the search to find the true muderer.

July 4, 2012 / M.E.

Happy Fourth From Norfolk!

Celebrating Independence Day in Norfolk. Happy 4th of July!

July 3, 2012 / M.E.

Cogan’s Pizza. Norfolk

We ate at the most wonderful pizza place last night! Cogan’s Pizza in Norfolk has so many pizza choices and they are all fantastic. I had told Nancy how much I have been craving pizza ever since we left St. Augustine and she suggested that we all meet up at Cogan’s. I realized this was an exceptional suggestion as I bit into a slice of the Mediterranean pizza. Feta, olives, sundried tomato, garlic and spinach blended together in a perfection on pizza. I was a happy camper!

The venue itself appeared to be as popular as the pizza. Every seat was taken! The rock n’ roll/space/retro decor on the inside seemed to bring a younger crowd in but with pizza as great as Cogan’s it doesn’t matter how old you get, you’ll be craving that pizza!

Cogan’s Pizza is located at 1901 Colonial Avenue in Norfolk, Virginia.

July 1, 2012 / M.E.

Norfolk. Virginia

After a several days of making our way up to Virginia, we finally arrived in Chesapeake, Virginia. We tied up at a free city dock in an area along the ICW called Great Bridge. We were surprised to find out that Great Bridge is actually the location of the first land battle of the American Revolution and the dock that we tied up to had a large memorial and park commemorating the event.

We spent the next couple of days relaxing after a long passage and got ready for our next destination, Norfolk! The sail up to Norfolk from Great Bridge was entertaining. Having never visited Norfolk before, we were surprised at how big the city was and we were amazed by all of the navy ships. We anchored out in Hospital Point in Portsmouth, Virginia, which is just across from Norfolk.

Our friend’s sister-in-law, Nancy, lives in Norfolk and she happily welcomed us to the area and gave us a tour around Portsmouth before inviting us back to her house for a fabulous dinner on her patio. There is alot to be said for knowing someone local when you are visiting a place. They’re almost always 100% more helpful than any map, directions, restaurant recommendation guide or visitor center can provide. We spent a lovely evening talking about sailing and adventures on the sea.

June 27, 2012 / M.E.

North Carolina to Virginia

Pictures from our voyage from North Carolina through the Intracoastal Waterway to Virginia.

Mellow Seas Sailing the ICW

Queen Anne’s Lace in Belhaven, North Carolina

Heading Into Town In Belhaven, North Carolina

I picked some wildflowers for the dinner table in Belhaven, North Carolina.

Sunset in Belhaven, North Carolina

Good Day for Sailing The Albemarle Sound

Blueberry Tea for Breakfast

I made stuffed artichokes before dinner one night!

Fighter Jets Overhead

I added some new pages to my inspiration books.

Sailing in 6.7 knots of wind…not bad!

A dragonfly stopped by the boat for a little bit.

You have to watch out for stumps in the Alligator River!

June 24, 2012 / M.E.

Oriental. North Carolina

We left Beaufort on Saturday morning for Oriental, North Carolina, the “Sailing capital of North Carolina”. Oriental is a small, quiet town but it is really charming and has so many friendly people.

Upon arrival in Oriental, we were able to tie up to the free city dock, enjoyed an iced mocha at The Bean Coffee Shop and did some grocery shopping at the local grocery store, which for a small town has quite an impressive selection at very reasonable prices.

Kokoi at the Oriental City Dock

We stopped at little shops around town to check out the local fare and enjoyed meeting the people of Oriental. One woman in particular, Bama, the owner of the Village Food Emporium, happily welcomed us into her air-conditioned shop to show us what foods they offered. Upon telling her that we were from Florida, Bama relayed that her grandmother had been the first woman to own land in the Palm Beach area. You never know who you’ll meet, even in small towns!

A butterfly outside the Village Food Emporium

The Book of the Sea at the Marine Consignment Shop of Oriental

The Local Seafood Shop in Oriental

Oriental’s town mascot is the dragon, which you can see all over town. The dragon originated in the 60’s when local residents created   a dragon out of miscellaneous items to ring in the New Year. The dragon was so entertaining and such a success that today, images of the dragon grace signs and buildings all throughout Oriental. The town has even started a dragon boat race festival. Dragon boat races consist of a 20 member crew in a long canoe synchronizing their strokes in the water to the beat of a drum. Many cities have dragon boat races but what better place to participate or observe a dragon boat race than Oriental? Perhaps we’ll make it back to Oriental in time for the Oriental Dragon Boat Festival in the Fall!

A dragon at The Screen Door

On Sunday, we greeted some familiar faces. Andy, our friend from Connecticut that we had befriended last year in St. Augustine, arrived at the Oriental Inn and Marina on his boat, Mellow Seas. We had a great time catching up with him and talking about our voyages up North so far. After catching up, he offered for us to come over and swim in the pool at the marina. We were quick to take him up on the offer. I slipped on a swimsuit, walked over to the pool and literally cannonballed in. Ah bliss! There is nothing better than the jumping into a cold pool on a hot, summer day.

Andy of s/v Mellow Seas from Spring 2011

It wasn’t more than 15 minutes before we happened upon another familiar face. David, our former dockmaster at Hidden Harbor, had arrived at the marina on a boat delivery up North. Matt, Andy and David told jokes and talked about sailing while I swam and floated around. We invited everyone over for dinner that night and Matt cooked a delicious roast chicken with onions, carrots and potatoes.  Another great night with good food and wonderful people!

David of s/v Traveler from Spring 2012

June 23, 2012 / M.E.

Last Days In Beaufort

Beaufort has been such a nice place to stay. The town is fairly small but it invests in making the sailing community comfortable. The people here are completely hospitable and so kind. Planters full of flowers bring the boardwalk to life with color and beauty and every night you can find some place that has live music.

Wednesday was spent working on the boat for most of the day.  Matt made delicious shrimp tacos for lunch along with fresh fish sandwiches that he made with the trout he had caught while I was stranded on Carrot Island. That night we went to our new friend, Antonio’s, where we met a guy named George. George has circumnavigated the globe a couple times and done surfing charters in the South Pacific but the craziest thing about him was that he had graduated from the same high school that I went to!  It’s amazing how small the world really is!

Blackened Shrimp Tacos

Sunset on the Boardwalk

Matt and I went out fishing with Tyler and Antonio on Thursday. We went out in Tyler’s flatboat and made our way around the waterways and headed to some local fishing spots. Near the port, I kept seeing a large yellow object going up and down in the water. I finally realized that it was a giant sea turtle just popping his head up to get some air! I tried in vain to get a picture of him but he went back under the water right as I zoomed in to get his picture.  He must have been shy about getting his picture taken!

My disappointment in not getting the sea turtle’s picture was soon forgotten when I threw my bait out and started feeling a bite. It didn’t take long before I caught the first fish of the day! A black sea bass…he was too small to keep but I was proud to beat the boys at getting the first catch of the day!

Bait

Catch of the Day: Black Sea Bass

Later on that afternoon, we headed into town to see if Jeb, the dockmaster at the city marina, was working. We had met Jeb in January 2011 in Eleuthera, Bahamas and we remembered that he spent his winters in Eleuthera and his summers working as the dockmaster in Beaufort. Sure enough, Jeb was in the office and we spent almost an hour catching up with him on what was happening in Eleuthera and hearing more about things to do around Beaufort.

On Friday, Matt and I ventured to the Maritime Museum. We had a great time looking at all the remnants and treasures from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck, a ship that was was recovered in the Outer Banks but is also said to be the pirate, Blackbeard’s old ship. Along with the exhibition on Queen Anne’s Revenge,  the museum also had a maritime library full of rows upon rows of books on sea life and boats, fossils of different sea animals and pictures of the old lighthouse keepers. It’s always interesting to learn some history about a place because it helps you to understand a place better.

The Beaufort Maritime Museum

After visiting the Maritime Museum, we walked around town one last time and enjoyed the blue skies and sunshine of the afternoon. We dinghied back to the boat and started getting the boat ready for an early departure on Saturday morning. Beaufort’s been fun but it’s time to move on!

Last Days In Beaufort

June 20, 2012 / M.E.

Stranded On Carrot Island

It’s been quite an exciting day!

This morning, Matt went fishing and I decided to get some dishes done. The only hitch about doing dishes was that we have been out of water for a couple days now. It’s been fine up until now but the dishes were definitely starting to back up. I took all of the dishes to the back of the boat to rinse them out in the water until we could get some fresh water on them. As I was rinsing some silverware off, I accidentally knocked all of our cups in the water. We only have four cups on the boat and of course, all four fell in. I knew I had to save the cups, so I threw the swim ladder down and jumped in after them.

I was able to grab the cups pretty quickly but when I turned to swim back to the boat, I realized that the current was so strong that I couldn’t get back. The current had already pulled me about 100 yards away from the boat, so I did what my mom has always told me and swam parallel to the shore until I reached Carrot Island, the island right across from the mainland. When I got to land, I felt like I had just come out of the movie Castaway or Swiss Family Robinson. I flopped onto shore and reveled in the sand for a moment before figuring out my next move.

I decided that it would be best if I waited for Matt to get back from fishing rather than try to make an attempt to get to the boat again.While I was on Carrot Island, I got to see all kinds of interesting little creatures. Blue crabs, hermit crabs, sea slugs and mass colonies of fiddler crabs kept me company while I waited on the island. After an hour, Matt returned in the dinghy and was surprised to find me hanging out on land when he had left me on the boat. He picked me up and we headed back to the boat with our catches of the day. For Matt it was a speckled trout and I had my four cups!

After the excitement of the morning, Matt and I decided that we needed something to eat since we had missed lunch. We stopped in at the Rhumbar at Stillwater Restaurant, where Antonio works, to pick up some appetizers. Stillwater offers half price appetizers every day from 3-5 p.m. and let me tell you, their appetizers are incredible! The restaurant  is a little bit more upscale but the Rhumbar has a very relaxed atmosphere. Matt and I sat under the shade of the umbrellas on the deck and ate calamari, oysters rockefeller and fried okra. A much needed break from the craziness of the day.

This hungry bystander decided he needed a snack as well!

When we finished eating, we headed back to the boat to enjoy the rest of the evening reading and relaxing. I was sitting downstairs when Matt called me up to the cockpit to see some interesting boats go by. The first boat was Steve and Linda Dashew‘s boat Windhorse. The Dashews are a world-famous sailing couple that have circumnavigated the globe numerous times and have written some of the most well-known sailing encyclopedias in the industry. Their boat, Windhorse, is massive. It was quite a sight to behold!

The second boat that went by was absolutely the best thing that you could see at the end of the day! The sun was setting and this couple went by in their wooden skiff. They had set out some lanterns and a vase of flowers and the sunset was reflecting on the water and it was absolutely beautiful! It brought to mind the famous old song “Moon River” by Henry Mancini. You can find all sorts of beauty in nature and life it’s all about the perspective that you take!

June 19, 2012 / M.E.

Beaufort. North Carolina

So much has been going on! Let me re-cap for a second on the highlights of the past few days!

We arrived in Beaufort, North Carolina on Saturday afternoon and as it was a beautiful day outside, everyone was out on the water and along the beaches. It was the last day for the Big Rock Marlin Tournament, so there were tons of boats and people in town. We anchored the boat out at the end of the anchorage and made some shrimp pasta with artichokes, olives and feta for dinner. We dinghied in to town to listen to a band play at the Dockhouse Restaurant for the last night of the tournament. People spent time dancing and mingling on the boardwalk in the cool evening.

A beautiful boat that passed us on our way to Beaufort, North Carolina

Nightfall at the anchorage in Beaufort

On Sunday, we walked around town and looked at all of the old homes. Each house has a sign that designates who built the home and many homes had lovely, little gardens full of colorful flowers. We also stopped by a nautical bookstore named, Scuttlebutt, on Front Street that had tons of books on sailing and boating. It was interesting to see how many books there are just on adventuring the water by boat.

On our way back to the boat, we got to see the first of what has become a daily routine of seeing the wild, Banker horses on Carrot Island. The horses supposedly came here in the 1940’s from one of the other Outer Banks islands but they originated from Spanish shipwrecks back during the time of explorations.

Scenes from Beaufort, North Carolina

That night, we found a cool, little, brick building called Backstreet Pub that we stopped in at to have a drink. The building that Backstreet is in used to be the old bakery back in the day and the ovens are still intact in the walls. It’s a small pub but very cozy with a nice courtyard in the back. The building itself seemed like something that could have come out of Harry Potter. They have books lining the walls and nautical flags and life rings for decor. It’s such a unique place that Garden and Gun magazine named it one of the best bars in the South!

 

Scenes from Backstreet Pub

At Backstreet, we befriended a guy named, Antonio, who invited us to a raft-up the next day with some of his friends. On Monday, the tide didn’t make the raft-up happen but we ended up hanging out with Antonio and his friends on the front porch of his house. It was a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon just sitting in rocking chairs watching all the people walk around on Front Street. Around sunset, Antonio decided to introduce us to the Tiki Hut at Fish Tales, a fun and colorful place with lots of nice people. We got to see a beautiful sunset and make some new friends. Just another good day as a cruiser!

Hanging out at Antonio’s house

Fish in a pond in Antonio’s front yard.

Scenes from The Tiki Hut at Fish Tales

June 14, 2012 / M.E.

Date Night In Wrightsville Beach

This afternoon, Matt and I went on a dinghy ride to pick up some seafood from the local seafood shop in Wrightsville Beach. We stopped in at Motts Channel Seafood, which had a great selection of seafood and local produce. Matt and I are very adament about trying to eat fresh seafood and not something that has been previously frozen. I guess living on the water, you become particular about things like these! We got a pound of shrimp to have for dinner in the upcoming days and headed on to Dockside Restaurant for some appetizers.

At Dockside, Matt ordered onion rings and I ordered blue crab and corn chowder, both of which were delicious! We sat on the porch outside and enjoyed watching the stand-up paddleboarders and boaters that passed by. After finishing up our appetizers, we headed back to the boat  to relax for a bit, get some things done around the boat and then go to dinner at Tower 7. While we were getting stuff done around the boat, Matt noticed that there were about 25 people on stand-up paddleboards going back and forth racing right along the channel! It was quite the sight to see so many people trying to maneuver the paddleboards and progress in their attempt to win the race!

Around 9 p.m., we headed in to town to have dinner at Tower 7, a Baja-Mex restaurant. With a slogan like, “live.eat.surf”, we knew we were in the right place. Tower 7 is conveniently located right next to the beach and serves everything from nachos and chile rellenos to quesadillas, fajitas, burritos and tacos. With great music playing in the background, Matt and I enjoyed chips with homemade salsa and mouth-watering burritos! A great way to end our time in Wrightsville Beach!

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