burgeetree.jpg (15266 bytes) The Adventures of Lynn and Les on "Cottonwood"

   Beaufort, NC to New York City
wheel.gif (3486 bytes)5/18/2004 to 6/16/2004

May 18th found us in Beaufort, NC.  We had been in the same named town in South Carolina, but they each pronounce the name differently. A bit of trivia for sure, but SC pronounces their Beaufort, BOWFORT, and NC pronounces theirs, BOOFORT. Go figure!  Boofort (sic) was small and charming. We looked in shops, bought a nautical looking magazine rack, and had a surprisingly great dinner at a little place that didn't look gourmet at all, but was. Yum!

In Oriental, Bellhaven, and Little Alligator River we just anchored and stayed on the boat although Les did dinghy to a big marine store in Oriental by himself and came home with more "stuff" than he would have had I gone with him.

Elizabeth City, NC was our next stop.  We had to cross a large shallow unsheltered bay called Albermarle Sound which we had read can be very treacherous in bad weather. Fortunately the weather was fine but the boat became filled with very large flies and about a dozen dragonflies as we motored along. The only thing treacherous we encountered were hundreds of crab pots right in the middle of the marked channel we were traveling. No use of autopilot there!

In Elizabeth City there was free dock and a 90 year old gentleman who hosts a wine and cheese party on his lawn every day there are 4 or more boats there. He calls his group "Rose Buddies" as he gives each lady a rose from his garden. About 14 people showed up the day we were there and he and his friend had many stories to tell us about the beginnings of the Coast Guard and how Wilbur and Orville Wright used Elizabeth City as a base of operations for Kitty Hawk, which was difficult to get to. He was a very fit and articulate gentleman.

Elizabeth City was the juncture at which one had to chose which of the two routes to take from the end of the ICW to the beginning of the Chesapeake Bay. The Virginia Cut was the faster and deeper route, but the Dismal Swamp Canal (despite the name) was supposed to be much better for scenery, so we chose the latter. Here we encountered the first 2 of the more than 100 locks that we will pass thru on our Great Circle Loop trip. Then canal was very shallow in some spots and we could hear the keel bump on underwater branches, but we had no problems.

I should mention something here about the water. In Florida and part of Georgia the water was muddy looking and opaque. Since we had seen and read about the "beard" that boats develop along the ICW, I assumed it was from this muddy looking water which left a mark like a moustache on the bow of the boat.  As we moved further north and the marshy areas turned to forest-like river banks the water changed to clear, but dark brown like strong tea. Les had read that this color is as a result of all the tannin in the water from all the trees and plants. Since tannic acid is also found in tea it is no wonder that the water resembled strong tea. This, not the muddy water, is what actually stained the bow brown. Every boat you pass has this "beard".

On the other side of the Canal we emerged in the Chesapeake Bay and arrived in Portsmouth, VA. Norfolk was on the opposite bank of the river. Here the tannin disappears due to the dilution of the water and the mix of sea water and fresh water from all the rivers that empty into the Chesapeake. Several Anchorages later we arrived in Cambridge, MD in the late afternoon here we stopped to visit with Lynn’s brother who lives in Georgetown, Delaware, about an hour away.

 June 3rd we headed for Chesapeake City, MD. We had to go thru the C and D (Chesapeake and Delaware) Canal. Years ago it had contained locks, but it has since been dredged deep enough so that the water leveled itself and no longer needs them.  We tied up to a dock underneath a big bridge at Shaffer's Marina in Chesapeake City. This is a very quaint little town with good restaurants and interesting shops, a fact which has been evident in most of the little towns along the waterfront.  Some places are well preserved small towns with much history and local flavor, others kind of bland, but nevertheless picturesque and friendly to boaters. The fauna of the day in these parts are ducks and geese. The flora, as we travel, are giving me sneezing fits.

Chesapeake City is on the C and D Canal which connects the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. It used to have 4 locks, but they dug it deeper so now it is just a deep channel without locks. From Chesapeake City we had an uneventful crossing of Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ and anchored out for 2 days in a crowed spot near the Coast Guard Station. We were forced to re-anchor 3 times, even though we were well within the anchorage and out of the channel,but the Coast Guard kept making us move because of the tour boats going by.

We made a poor decision at this point, but not because we hadn’t done our research. The advice we read was not good advice. We elected to take a route inside NJ rather than go out into the ocean. We say we are a 5ft. draft boat, but we are actually only 4’ 9”. These waters didn’t care. It had to have been less than 5 feet in some spots inside the marked channels even at high tide as we were churning up dark black mud in our wake and bumping bottom all the time! We ran behind schedule because we were going very slow trying to feel our way along and it started to rain and the tide started to ebb, and we got stuck for 3 hours in the mud until the tide came back up and we could get unstuck. The water outside the channel was of course even more  shallow and we had to drop anchor and put out a second anchor off the port side to keep us from drifting more into the shallows. Then it was time to wait it out. Can’t remember if I took a nap or drank a beer or both. Anyway, 3 hrs later we had to rush to pull up the anchors get underway lest we drift again and get stuck.

We found an anchorage in Strathmore, NJ. in a rather isolated area and we stayed another day, slept late out of exhaustion, and missed the very early morning high tide, so we couldn’t leave. We watched President Reagan’s funeral on TV June 11th and the light rain seemed to echo the world’s loss and sorrow. For the next month we saw flags at half mast along all the waterways.

Unfortunately the next day’s run was a long one in the same damn narrow channeled shallow water. The fact that we saw very few large boats should have been a clue, but sometimes that is often the case everywhere we go. Lots of small boaters insisted on fishing right in the middle of the channel and rarely acknowledged us, some seemed miffed when they had to move for us.  One even shouted we should go around him out of the channel.  Buy a “D” for Duh, fella!        

We came out at Atlantic City, NJ at dusk and found the anchorage we had planned to stay in blocked by a huge dredge in the entrance channel. Where are these dredgers when you need one? So we settled for a busy, noisy, anchorage, again near a Coast Guard Station, and some sort of waterfront festival was going on in which we had no interest in investigating.  Coast Guard rubber boats with lights and sirens screamed past several times in the early evening in pursuit of someone. Boats came in and out of the anchorage, some leaving large wakes.  The skyline was rather pretty tho’, with all the casinos and hi rise hotels…Trump Hotel and Casino and many others. Trump had its own marina, too.

Leaving Atlantic City the next morning, on June13th, was a beautiful sight. The City’s skyline illuminated by the dawn’s light as we saw the OCEAN before us was a real thrill. Deep water and waves, hurray!  We had decided long before this that the Intra-Coastal-Waterways (ICW) are no place for a boat with a draft much more than 4 feet. Out in the Atlantic great, but in the ICW for the most part, no. It has been a wonderful trip, but with a boat with less draft it would have been more of a pleasure with less worry about delays and running aground and suffering boat damage.

When reading the boating guides and studying the charts and there are stretches of water, for example, nicknamed “the parking lot” because you will often see many boats grounded there even in the marked channel, you should take heed. I also think stabilizing fins are another potential liability for things to get hung up on or to hit on something underwater. So far we have been lucky there, and we haven’t had to use them in the calm inland waters and lakes we have been in thus far anyway. Of course without the ocean-worthiness and the stabilizers on “Cottonwood” the trip to get to the East Coast would have been implausible, uncomfortable, and unsafe. So, to do the ICW, start on the East Coast with a comfortable, shallow draft trawler and have at it. Also a short mast and small antennae would help. If we were to do it again we would charter a houseboat with a few toys attached and we could go anywhere.

It was a full day’s trip to get to New York City and we pulled into the harbor bound for the anchorage at Liberty Island behind the Statue of Liberty. It was a little cloudy and gray so it took a long time before we could see much besides the skyline of Brooklyn as we approached. Then under the Verazanno bridge, and we spotted Lady Liberty in all her glory, ringed with US flags all at half-mast! Just as we dropped anchor the winds picked up, changed direction, and began giving us grief and making it difficult to anchor in the small spot with concrete walls along two sides. After two unsuccessful attempts we read that the anchorage was a safe spot in all but southeast winds. Guess which way the winds were blowing? So out of there we went, up the Hudson directly across from the Empire State Building on the New Jersey side of the river to Lincoln Harbor Marina. The New Jersey side was much cheaper at $2+/ foot instead of $4+ on the NY side. We had a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline and waterfront minus the Twin Towers which made us feel instantly sad. We were in Weehawken, NJ.  Perhaps this is Indian for screeching owl or no sleep for the white man, for this marina's metal docks screeched constantly. Just up the dock there was a Ruth Chris Steakhouse, so we treated ourselves to a nice steak dinner with a bottle of wine before bedtime.

The next day, June 14th , it was over to the Big Apple for a look ‘round, over on the ferry and bus to the heart of NYC. It was about 85 degrees with a humidity of 99.9 % and sunny. We walked our little feet off and strained our necks and eyes and ears trying to take it all in. New York is definitely a happening place.  Times Square, with crowds of people of all shapes, sizes and colors, scurrying in every direction and all the huge video monitors ablaze with color and streaming news headlines across the marquees, was an awesome sight to behold. Dizzying. Tuesday we took a bus tour of the City and stopped at the World Trade Center Site to pay our respects. It is all cleaned up and fenced off so it doesn’t look as ghastly as the visions we all saw on TV. But it is striking to see the vast hole and the magnitude of the area that was affected. We saw the Church where the firemen carried the body of the Catholic priest who was the fire dept. chaplain, and his statue that has been erected there now. In a park nearby there is a spherical metal sculpture that had once been in a fountain at one of the building complexes of the WTC. It was found in the rubble a little bent, but otherwise intact and it was moved to the park as a symbol of strength and fortitude and there is a flame burning beside it.

Well, NYC is too much. You could burn out with all that activity.

Next, up the Hudson River.

Lynn in Times Square

Bullish on America

Ground Zero

Ground Zero Survivor

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~ Clic on Pics to Enlarge ~

Beaufort, NC

Little Alligator River Anchorage

Tea? or  River water?

Elizabeth City, NC

Sunset on the River

First Lock of over 100!

Enter the Dismal Swamp

Another Beautiful Sunset

Shopping in Chesapeake City

Anchorage at Strathmore, NJ

Anchorage at Atlantic City


Beautiful Lady Liberty

Anchorage behind Lady Liberty

New York City

NYC from New Jersey Marina


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