So, did it work?!

This post only makes sense after seeing this one: https:/shellerina.com/2022/04/30/dbofs/

Did my course down the east side of the Delaware River succeed in avoiding the strong 2+ knot northbound current?

Judging from my GPS speed over ground, and by looking at this buoy off the Salem / Hope Creek nuclear power plants. Hardly a ripple. So, YES! The current on this side of the river was much tamer than the 2 knot currents in the west side.
The other nice thing about today as a cruising day is no wind! See the condensate off the cooling tower going straight up!
Nun buoy off Ship John Shoal…
Click on the video above.
A couple hours after passing the nuclear power plants, as the “River” opens up into the “Bay”, we are in the main shipping channel, and you can see the 2+ knot strong current pushing us along, just as predicted by DBOFS models!
Ship John Shoal Light
I’m not certain, but I think the chart labels on some of these once well-maintained lighthouses are indicative of them being relagated by new technology: AIS, GPS, etc. Instead of “Ship John Shoal Light” it is simply labeled as “Land Area”. There have been several examples of this in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The chart indicates this light is ‘apparently’ still doing its thing at night, but it makes me wonder, “For how much longer?”
At 1800 RPM, we go 8.0 knots. But today we can see a 2 knot boost in our “speed over ground” or SOG.
The green line is our actual course today. The red sections of that line are where went 10 knots or more due to current helping by 2 knots or more. Around 3:00pm I reduced RPMs of the engine to 1400 RPM to conserve fuel and because it was clear, we’d easily be secured before 6:00pm.

DBOFS

Delaware Bay Operational Forecast System

This 12 year old sticky note hangs on the chart on the wall above Tim Konkus’s desk.

If you have heard about the informative “Briefings” that are part of staying at this strategically located marina to set up for transiting Delaware Bay, you are not alone. This place is known for them!

I think yesterday we were part of the first “briefing” this season!

Tim Konkus, owner, Delaware City Marina

Tim gives the briefings here. He teaches us how to use the DBOFS to safely and efficiently get to Cape May or alternative ports like Lewes, Atlantic City, Hancock Marina, etc.

Google DBOFS and CBOFS and get familiar with these tools.

Example, a case study: Shellerina’s passage tomorrow. First, you need a good WIND weather window. We’ve been tied up here for five nights waiting for ours. Tomorrow is a good (hard to find) weather window to leave here and head south to Cape May on our overall northbound Loop trip. I could elaborate more on wind and sea state, but I’m not going to get into that for THIS post. I’m going to focus on currents and TIMING our departure time from this wonderful port, as well as strategically altering our route a bit to avoid current.

Cape May is about 50nm from here. That’s 6 or 7 hours for us in our trawler. (( Mental note: 1/3rd of the way down is a security blanket on the east side: Cohansey River and Hancock Marina. Be ready for strong currents in that river if you need that lifeline. ))

OK… so lets see what is happening tomorrow for currents on Delaware Bay!

Legend: the arrow colors represent the speed of the current.
DBOFS show that tomorrow at 7:00am the lower “Bay” has northbound [flood] current, and up north in the “River” by us there is still some southbound [ebb] current, but it has started to become disorganized.

8:00am In the upper Delaware River area currents are starting to organize into Flood, northbound flow.

By 9:00am in the north “River” part of the Delaware, the Flood-Northbound current is well organized… especially on the west side of the river, where the big ship channel is. It is substantially weaker on the east side of the Delaware River. There is some evidence of a counter current “eddy-ing” south there.

By 10:00 am we see PEAK flow northbound Flood in the upper Delaware “River” section of where we want to go. Again, most of that 2- knot current is on the west bank of the Delaware River.

By 11:00am, the lower “Bay” is getting disorganized and preparing to EBB. However, to the north, northbound current continues to be strong! … especially on the west side of the Delaware River. Note that the east side of the river has less northbound current!
By NOON, things in the upper “River” section start to slow down a bit. The east side of the river is “tame”. The lower Delaware BAY section actually starts to get organized into an EBB action.
By 1:00pm the currents in the upper “River” are totally disorganized and the lower part of Delaware River and Bay is ready to fully cooperate on our journey south to Cape May.

Without getting into too much detail, we want to be at the entrance to Cape May’s canal by 5:00pm. The currents start to work against us down there by 6:00pm, plus we’ll start loosing daylight!

So given this scenario, what is Shellerina’s Float Plan?!?!

#1 We will exit the Delaware City Channel at 11:00am.

#2 We have plotted a course along the east side of the Delaware River (East & outside of the big ship channel). We are using +/- 20 feet of water depth as our guide. The currents against us are much milder on that side.

Some of our dock mates plan on leaving way before dawn in order to take advantage of southbound currents way BEFORE the 7:00am scenarios shown here. But, they’ll be navigating in the dark with that plan! Daring and adventurous.

Again, wind and weather come FIRST in selecting when to GO or NO GO. This post has been more focused on CURRENT which comes next (secondary) in your timing decision of when to push off. All are fun (and critical) to study for safe passages. Now that we have a weather window, timing the current becomes front of mind.

Tim Konkus’s “Briefings” here at Delaware City Marina will help you understand the very unique characteristics of the Delaware River and the Delaware Bay. It is very much part of the Americas Great Loop adventure to engage in this seamanship!

The southbound “route” labelled above as “Eddie Shortcut” I have entered into our chart plotter shows the path (east of the main shipping channel) which we plan to take tomorrow to find much milder currents against us.

It is also important to note that the upper “River” part of this waterway is more significant to consider CURRENT compared to the lower “Bay” part of this segment of The Loop.

Every other week, this segment of the Delaware gives Loopers tidal advantages in the morning when winds are typically lighter.

You might try to time your arrival/departure from in Delaware City to be one of those weeks when morning currents in the Delaware RIVER align with lighter morning winds. We didn’t!

I think that our “innovation” not read before in cruising guides or forums, is that favoring the east side of the Delaware River is a good strategy of minimizing the effect of current here when you need to be in this waterway in less than ideal currents… at least for this passage tomorrow.

On Delaware City

Economically this refinery appears to be a big part of this community.

Agriculture / Farming also takes up a significant amount of the land use.

Nearby Bear DE has a major shopping center. It’s about a $25 Lyft / Uber ride.

There are several options for eating out, all walking distance.

Shellerina at her berth in Delaware City.

How many of us live in a municipality where a marina’s TraveLift yacht handling equipment is allowed to occupy a city street for hours, without complaint or hassle? This marina is SO important to this community and REGION, it gets lots of special consideration, and RESPECT.

“Branch Channel” – Delaware City DE

Thanks to my Looper Friend “Gene of Galene”He took my call today when I needed clarity.

Sometimes all the compass needles do not point in the same direction. We all like to poke fun at Navionics’ Auto Route. Here is my latest example of how it must be double checked..,. Triple checked even.

To give credit, there are cautionary symbols, which have no explanation. But this channel is un-navigable. Navionics’ “Dock-to-Dock auto-route algorithm should never have proposed this route.

There is a 6 foot vertical clearance bridge that does not open for boat traffic!

Here is the bridge (Rte 9) that Navionics describes as a bascule bridge (which means it opens for boat traffic). My admiral, Shelly, expressed concern several times today that the Waterway Guide gave no schedule or instructions for coordinating an opening with the bridge tender.
“No matter how long you wait or how many times you call on VHF this Rte 9 ‘bascule bridge’ ain’t gonna open for ya!” LOL
In addition to the low bridge / fixed span issue there is also a label that specifically advises against using this “Branch Channel” route.

Unaware of these issues, once we got there, I didn’t think this west entrance to the Branch Canal looked very inviting. As seen from the C&D Canal (below.). So, I called my very experienced Looper Friend Gene Rutkowski of Galene. He and Patty have become new lifelong Looper Friends of ours, having met up in multiple Looper ports all year.

“You gotta go around! There’s a bridge down there that won’t open,” Gene explained.

The US Army Corps of Engineers would never have put these pilings in the middle of a navigable waterway.
So, we had to keep going east (straight) then we took a sharp turn to the NW to get into “Branch Channel” from the other end!

There are some reports of shallow water at the entrance. To address that for everyone coming behind us, we recorded these bottom contours on our way in. See the explanation below.

This clearly shows a measured depth of 6 ft at the [navigable] east entrance to Delaware City’s Branch Channel. This was at 5:00pm EDT with 2-3 feet of water above mean low low water (MLLW). However my transducers are 24” below my waterline, So, coincidentally, those nearly offset each other. Therefore, at low tide we say you can expect about 5 feet of water at the entrance; it gets deeper once you are inside. Like stocks and bonds, “Past performance is no guaranty of future performance!” <wink>

5:00pm = 2-3 feet above MLLW this day as we entered.

As for the west end of this Branch Canal, it’s probably OK for an ambitious kayaker with strong arms to beat the current! … or one who knows how to time the tide’s ebb and flood.

April is early in the season, so they had plenty of room for us. We simply showed up unannounced on Monday night. But they do fill up later on in the season. The office is “closed” on Sundays and Mondays, so it may be tough to get a reservation. The river is too narrow to allow rafting. The transient docks are “further in” on the bridge side past the office and service area. (The furthest in we go, the less traffic and wake!).

Reservations are preferred. They clearly believe in a well-ordered universe. During the busy season, they would like to go 7 days per week. But, help has been hard to find.

The modest current in here will be “fun” for some to compensate for with their docking. It may not be for others.

The bridge end, past the office and service area.
The on-site marine parts and gift shop may have what you need in stock. There is also a West Marine on the local bus route, or take Uber.
They even had some OEM CAT expendables in the shelf, including one of ours.
Now open for the season. Kathy’s Crab House and many provisions are walking distance from the marina. Major grocers require an Uber or bus ride. Shelly’s fave: InstaCart works here!

Bowleys – Middle River MD

We’ll certainly be back here this fall!

A big place…. Fuel Dock tip: it there is any wind or wake at all, Ed and TJ will corral you to the inside so you boat (and their docks) don’t take a beating. It is a fairly exposed fuel dock. Staff here is great. Showers and bathrooms are very clean / new. They live up to all the gr8 reviews.

Their fuel was the lowest for miles around.

Swimming pool and BBQ!

Only six travel-days to Great Loop finish!

The final six routes are entered into the chart plotter and are shown below (not in order).

Total 242 nm, average of 40 nm/day. The next two legs will get us to Delaware City on the Delaware River. We will time both of those to get significant help from tidal current. Good weather windows will be important, as most of this is open water. April is also our end-of-quarter at work, which usually equates to more deal closing! The combination of work and weather makes it difficult to predict when those six travel days will take place.

Annapolis

Pride of Baltimore is in port this week.
The helm of the Pride of Baltimore with a sailboat running with her spinnaker up, and the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge can also be made out in the distance.
You can rent a slip at the town docks, right in the thick of it all!
Sea Scouts were also in port tonight.
We figured we have eaten enough crab meat so far this week. So we tried this BBQ place. Excellent brisket!
This place had my favorite: Blue Point Toasted Lager on tap. I haven’t seen that since we left Long Island.
This is a monument to memorialize Alex Haley and his ancestor Kunta Kinte. Haley studied his family’s history and heritage all the way back to Africa. His book Roots was made into a famous mini-series. This is the port that Kunta Kinte was brought to by slave ships.

This type of “interactive touch” monument invites youngsters and adults alike to touch and interact with the objects in the exhibit. Not pictured here was a group of kids who we saw hugging and climbing on these statues. One young girl was even kissing one of the statues of kids her age!

The fundamental message here is “pass it on” … study and pass on your heritage to future generations as the figure of Alex Haley is doing here!

Feeling accomplished! Getting off and on this fixed dock at different tides was a feat for Shelly.

Lots of ships coming up ahead…

I just took the helm after Shelly’s shift/watch. There are a whole bunch of ships showing up 5-10 miles ahead of us on the horizon.

Above, this is what they look like on the chart plotter with AIS. If I click on one of them, I can get their speed over ground (SOG), vessel name, and other info.

0.1 knots for this vessel named Oregon Harmony means they are probably at anchor.

There is a total of six large cargo vessels all anchored in the area just outside of Annapolis, which is our destination for this afternoon.

It is most likely that they are all waiting their turn to go up into Baltimore to unload their cargo OR to make their way into the C&D Canal. That canal cuts across from the northern Chesapeake Bay to the Delaware River and Delaware Bay. We might be passing through that canal on Sunday!

Here are a couple of the ships to our right.

Cargo ships waiting their turn to go into Baltimore.

Here is Freedom, a gold Looper from Ann Arbor MI. Looks like she’s having another go at it!

We took this and a few other pics of Freedom a Selene 53, underway and emailed them to Capt Mark Murray.

Below is Thomas Point Shoal Light which was close to all this activity.

Here is a larger than average tow that we passed earlier on our way into Solomons MD.

Once in Annapolis Harbor, Shelly prepares to throw Steve a line at the fuel dock. We pumped out got some ice, and squared up for one night right in close to town at The Yacht Basin Company.

Doppler Radar

After securing last eve in Solomons MD, I started playing with my Raymarine’s RADAR. Doppler is not a setting that I usually use underway. I usually have it on chart plotter overlay. So the echos show up on top of the chart with ATONs and the land around us.

Here is a pic of what I saw in Doppler radar mode when I first turned it on.

The red dot means there is something moving towards me. The white echos are all objects or land that are static, neither moving closer nor further away.

Sure enough on my starboard quarter, there was a boat approaching us, going by us while we were tied up at the T-head dock.

After this boat got passed us, the radar echos from this boat turned green on our starboard bow. Green because he is a moving object but moving away from us.

You can imagine how helpful this would be if we were underway on a moonless night or in thick fog.

You might ask, “What is the stationary (white) object on the other side of the channel, just forward of your starboard beam?”

That is an ATON (aid to navigation) marking the right side of the channel for boats like the one that just went by.

In chart overlay mode this is what that ATON looks like up close… here doppler is off, and all echos are yellow or orange.

((Ignore the sailboat icon… clicking on it just gives me the nearby marina name on that side of the channel. It has nothing to do with the ATON or radar. ))
Here, not so up close, you can see the land, buildings, and docks drawn along with their radar echos.

Slow down the wind turbine!

This morning I finally figured it out!

We have been stuck here in Crisfield MD for 6 days and five nights because it has been too windy and rough to cross the Chesapeake Bay and get to Solomons MD.

So I found out who the person is who is in-charge of the wind turbine and called him up on the phone. I simply asked him to slow down the wind turbine for a few hours so it wouldn’t be so windy. Problem solved!

Click to see video above of slowed down wind turbine. Finally we can move on to the next port!

Addendum… later in the day:

That worked; we are now out in the middle of Chesapeake Bay, and there is no wind! I’ll have call the guy to thank him!

Solomons MD here we come.

Secured 6:00pm Solomons MD

The team at Somers Cove Marina make it a special place!

Bonnie, Caroline, Emily, and Sean are part of the team that makes this place an excellent choice for those traversing the Chesapeake. As you make your approach they prioritize the extremely helpful VHF (16>9) talking you in and send a couple dock hands to your slip to catch your lines.

The golf carts ($25 /4 hours) are a bonus, as is the swimming pool (which will be opening in a few weeks.)

Playing it safe…

The wind has shifted early today; our “ground tackle” held well. This is a nice protected basin. However, the National Weather Services has issued a Wind Advisory for this area.

So, I called the marina, and we will go back in and take a slip for tonight. I know our anchor would hold, and I could even put out a second anchor if we had to. But it will simply be more comfortable secured to a new floating cement dock system (with shore power) rather than bouncing about all night out here in the basin!

This is “pleasure boating” after all! It is OK to opt for comfort.

11:45am Addendum

We are now secured at dock for the big blow!

My anchor alarm app was making a racket down in the salon, while Shelly worked the bow and I was up on the bridge.

We are safe. Bring it on!

Chesapeake Crab Boat

Tall bow for bad weather, name of boat on bow for commercial boats is required to facilitate VHF calls. Forward pilot house to give more work space on-deck, shallow draft and protected running gear for safely getting into and out of skinny eater. This one has a second helm to operate from the business end of the boat. Dry exhaust simplifies things. Bucket over top keeps rainwater out of manifold and cylinders when not underway. In Maine, lobster boats “keel pipes” were common for antifreeze and fresh water cooling. I forgot to note what this boat had for cooling. Note the transom has no “holes” for wet exhaust and cooling water to exit.

Happy Holidays

The sun sets this hour to our stern. While a full moon prepares to come up on the horizon off our bow!

The timing of the first full moon after the spring equinox drives the annually variable dates for Passover and Easter each year.

Happy Holidays everyone. “This is a very special night.” … in many traditions.

Traveling to the freedom of The Promised Land both by day and by night under the full moon is at the root of this holy tradition.

My thoughts turn to our friends in Ukrane, some of whom I have personally done business with… one of whom studies with my nephew Adam in college in Maine. The quest for freedom is centuries old, and it is something to hold dear and protect for everyone everywhere.

The moon goes full for everyone everywhere on the planet. The tides respect this even on a cloudy night.

Time lapse moon rise video above – click to watch it.

Crisfield tour by golf cart – Part 2

The local grocery, Food Lion, is accessible by golf cart or Uber.
Here our provisions are literally “tied” to the cart for travel, as there is no other way to secure the load.
More public infrastructure with the local symbol of pride.
Even the wind turbine carries the local trademark. (Ray is a big renewable energy fan.)
Reportedly, some ethic groups and cultures prefer female crabs, but male crab meat seems to be the market driver for most palates.
Lintons is not a restaurant, per se, but they do have plenty of picnic tables on which to sit and devour your catch. It is a bit more than a mile from the marina basin… Safely accessible by golf cart if you use the trail we found along side of the highway. The crab cakes sandwich was still warm when we got back to the boat!

Being mid-April, it is very early in the crab season. So, the cost per pound is higher than it will likely be in the summer. We were glad to find plenty of good crab in any case, as this is our boat’s first trip into Maryland and Chesapeake Bay waters. It’s what we came here for afterall!

Click above to see the video. The Crab Place is the local vendor whom you can call and order the local catch to be shipped most anywhere.
If Male v. Female crabs are such a big deal, how can you tell the difference?!

More about the Maryland Blue Crab: https://difference.guru/difference-between-male-and-female-blue-crabs/

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/blue-crab

https://www.bluecrabtrading.com/seafood-blog/maryland-blue-crabs-101.html

This “gauge” tool is used to ensure one’s shellfish harvest is of legal size.

Different lengths apply to different species and even gender.

Maryland!

We just crossed into Maryland? “Shelly, how many states is that?”
When approaching the port of Crisfield MD from the Bay, the wind turbine and large condos are what you’ll probably see first, then these fishing boats.
But to the right side, east of the large condo building, is the entrance to the Basin. Both the basin and it’s opening is quite a bit larger than we expected.

The two videos below give good perspective of what you’ll find in here.

We are on G-Dock to the right (east) of their fuel dock. New cement floating docks. Very nice!
The Blue dot is us on G-Dock. The shorter Fuel Dock is next to us. We passed it on our port side coming in. The staff was great on talking us in (VHF-16>9) and having dock hands waiting for us at the slip.
Lower left of cross hairs is the
anchorage… a lot more room than I thought. With the winds forecast for Easter Sunday, we’ll probably anchor in this basin for night-three.
Click to see video above.
Crab Capital of the World!
We had a little help with a flood tide for the second half of the passage; we were secured before the winds picked up at 1:00pm.

The Maryland Crab Cakes and Oysters were good at the Fisherman’s Grille tonight. We’ll try Linton’s tomorrow at lunch to compare. (The marina rents out a couple golf carts to get around town. It’s early in the season so we think our chances are pretty good.). Uber is the backup plan.

On the hook again!

We stayed on the hook last night to help recover from the re-fueling bill. 70F water temps here in the gator-less Chesapeake, and 80+F air temps inspired me to take my first dip of the season!

Shelly sporting her newest SPF T-shirt!

Chesapeake Boat Basin, Kilmarnock VA

Cheap fuel isn’t the only happening thing here in Kilmarnock Virginia. This marina is putting itself “on the map” for Loopers and other transient cruisers by doubling the number of slips, all to go after the transient cruiser marketplace.

New dock system going in here in Indian Creek, as seen from the fuel dock.
This is the view as a boater approaches the marina. All this is just south of the existing docks.
All the “stuff” circled in red had to be removed to make room for the new docks.
They are already off to a good start with amenities!
New bath house going in for transients!

We anchored off last night just to save some scratch after yesterday’s fuel bill. There are several great spots to drop the hook nearby. But, we will certainly be stopping back here for our autumn migration to survey the progress!

$3.9999999/gallon

Chesapeake Boat Basin in Kilmarnock VA has diesel for $4/gallon as seen in Waterway Guide. But you need to add 5.3% sales tax, making it $4.21.

Aim for the new aluminum transient docks being built to the left, then take a sharp right in behind the other docks and boats.
Pull in as far as you can; the diesel hose just barely reached both sides for us to top off. You won’t see the large fuel flags until the last minute. Despite appearances, there really is only room for one boat at a time in here at the fuel dock.
(Gasoline was $5.39)

It’s all self-service here. No help with lines. Use this paging device to coordinate power “on” to pumps. (I found it helps if you read the instructions!). LOL

Next stop?

We cross the Bay to Crisfield MD. Somers Cove Marina for 2 nights. We hear that town might serve up some crabs and oysters rather close to that marina. Also taking delivery of some Rx and Amazon “stuff”… the local stores will also get their share, to be sure! LOL

https://shellerina.com/2022/04/14/chesapeake-boat-basin-kilmarnock-va/

Here is more information about this marina and what they have coming.

Reflections

Our cameras are mounted and aimed low to mainly show what is happening on the waters fore and aft. So, magnificent cloud formations at sunrise and sunset might get missed. What is interesting in these pics is the cloud formations show up in the reflected waters of this great anchorage inside Glouster Point VA.

No more gold stickers on the AtoNs.

Since we have finished the ICW, there are no more gold/yellow stickers to watch for on the Aids to Navigation north of Norfolk VA.
Nice pic snagged by Shelly!
Here is a Navy destroyer being towed into the Norfolk Navy Yard. Very busy port this morning with large ships coming and going all around
us. (Sorry for the blurriness, the DoD asked us to reduce the high resolution intel found on certain pics on this blog.)

ICW mm ZERO = 5000 for us!

Yesterday when we made Norfolk – Portsmouth VA we made it to the “beginning” of the Intracoastal Waterway (mile zero). The other end is in Brownsville TX.

It was also a day when our Great Loop trip odometer passed 5000 statute miles! 5008.2 to be exact.

It was a short trip from Atlantic Yacht Basin to Tidewater, but it followed a record-breaking 72-mile day on Saturday where we crossed Albermarle Sound 20 miles, then we kept going! Today is a day for Shelly to recover, do laundry, and take delivery of an Instacart order. (Not exactly rest!)

Saturday April 9
Sunday April 10

We try to pack on the miles on the weekends, as Ray still works during the week.

US Union Jack …

Two US Navy ships along side each other, sporting the US Union Jack on their bow today in Norfolk VA.

For almost 20 years, in three different boats named Shellerina, we have flown the US Union Jack from our bow. It’s uncommon on pleasure craft (PC), and its kinda like a trademark for us.

This is the oldest blog post we have showing the US Union Jack. There have been dozens since then.

https://shellerina.com/2017/04/24/sore-thumb/

One other PC we met up with in Erie PA and again on July 4 last year flew this flag from their bow. https://shellerina.com/2021/07/05/fireworks-afloat-put-in-bay-oh/

The US Union Jack is flown from the bow of US Navy ships that are on liberty. (It is taken down when they are underway.) It was great to see several Navy ships flying this flag from their bow as we have for years now.

Our US Union Jack flying today in Norfolk-Portsmouth VA, like the US Navy ships around us!

We usually buy new flags every year to put up for the 4th. https://shellerina.com/2021/07/04/new-ensign-for-the-4th-of-july/

Top Rack Marina, ICW mm 9

Soon after passing Atlantic YB and the Great Bridge bridge and lock, you’ll see Top Rack marina on the right.

First Come, First Serve here. Some slips do not have shore power. Looks like they have room today! Docks are new.
Fuel is usually cheapest around here, nudging out Atlantic YB. But we didn’t bite at either place! York River Yacht Haven is advertising $4.39 for diesel… that’s our next stop after Norfolk-Portsmouth.

Maybe next time through!
[Relatively] Good fuel price at our next stop.

Atlantic Yacht Basin ICW mm 12

Atlantic YB features 24×7 fuel dock and dockmaster help. Show up anytime. The free docks are on the other side of the river … shown here in the background (no shore power). It was a chilly night, so we wanted HEAT.
There is actually a “basin” here, even though their long dock along the waterway is more predominant.
Here is a closer look at the free wall. You can also see part of the Great Bridge bascule bridge. It opens only on the hour, and there is a Great Bridge Lock just beyond the bridge. It operates till 7:00pm.
Loopers pass thru two swing bridges south of here, then pass under the I-168 bridge seen on the right here before seeing AYB on center, above. The bascule bridge on the left was formerly known as Battlefield Blvd Bridge before the recent renaming to the Great Bridge bridge!

There is a large shopping center for provisioning located just 0.4 miles from here. Definitely walkable. There is “potable well water” available on the docks. Bathrooms and showers were simple but clean and they worked! (As stated in earlier posts, we take nothing for granted!) LOL

ICW mm 12 … a happening place!!!

Morning Sun

This morning’s sun hit the starboard side of a Mainship with the same name as we met up with them at the Alligator River Bridge lined up for a crossing of Albermarle Sound.

Conditions were a little “rolly” but there were no white caps for the 20 mile crossing. That’s a good thing.

A couple hours later we parted ways as they headed to the nice anchorage in Broad Creek. We will press on to Chesapeake VA, and tie up at Top Rack Marina for the night.

Change of plans, we tied up at Atlantic Yacht Basin (mm 12) instead of “chancing it” at Top Rack who is a first-come-first-serve place, and reportedly, not all their slips have shore power. Temps are heading into the low 40s tonight, and we’d like to have heat!

Dowry Creek Marina – ICW mm 133

Video above.
Highly reputed place… but we are finding no protection from a SW breeze 16-22mph. … Sometimes the village may be the better option?.

I just drove into metropolitan Belhaven. The docks there are pretty exposed too. I had a couple of mid-day conference calls today. So before getting to Dowery Creek Marina, we anchored in Slade Creek, east side of Pungo River just before Belhaven.
That would be a fine anchorage if you needed to find a well- protected spot if you happened upon this neighborhood in a big blow.
The blue dot shows our position, which was actually part of a NOAA tornado watch area today. As you can see, all of the nasties passed north of us.

Pool opens May 1.

Not many marinas sport a Mercedes among their courtesy car fleet!
By sun set, the wind calmed; by 9:00pm the flag is barely moving! A good night sleep!

“Grace Harbor Marina” at River Dunes

Nice Place. Outstanding. ICW mm 173

Very well protected harbor.

Shellerina in her berth.
Did I mention this is a very well-protected port?!?!
Cape Hatteras, New Bern, Beaufort / Morehead City NC are all in the vicinity. Next stop north on the ICW is likely Belhaven NC on the way to Albermarle Sound.

Attention to detail even in the hand-laid stone work.
The woodworking craftsmanship on this angle on the docks is remarkable IMO.
Listen for it. Everything whispers “Quality!”

The rest of the property is similarly very impressive.

Click to see the video above.
Fire pits!
Two on-prem restaurants, and a great clubhouse to hang out in.

I may have neglected to mention a hot tub open 12 months a year, kept at over 100F. It’s fun to have someone to share it with.

Plus a courtesy vehicle… all for $2.25/ft/night. Worth treating yourself especially if there is some nasty weather coming through. Like tonight for us.

River Dunes is a home owner’s development community, whose marina has fuel and transient slips.

8 miles away…

The village of Oriental… a commercial shrimping port with a hardware store and more!

The local grocer will come pick you up and bring you back. No big box stores in this port. No chains like McDonalds, etc. But we found everything on our list.
This dandy store has everything from marine supplies and outboard motors to greeting cards and jewelry. They have foul weather gear. How about a used marine consignment aisle?! They have 3 or 4 aisles of used marine equipment! I have never seen anything quite like it! (Even in rural Maine)
M&Ms Cafe
Open for lunch and dinner. Another Looper told us their brunch is great also.
This special was great!

Anatomy of a sunrise…

There is a lot going on around us … fun to tune into if you pay attention.

There was a large planet rising ahead of the sun this morning. But which planet was it?!?
Most likely, it was not ONE planet rising, but a cluster: Saturn, Mars, and to a less extent, Venus.
The cluster of the larger planets Jupiter and Neptune also rose minutes ahead of the sun this morning, but the sky was already too bright to see them. STAY TUNED! Correction to follow!!!

I need to re-examine these pics with my app’s time stamps. I now think the pics show both clusters + Venus. Details to follow.

During all this excitement, a fishing boat can be seen heading north on the ICW. Click ABOVE to watch the video.
Above: Saturn and Mars are just about to fade in the sunlight.
A smaller boat with a fisherman heads out beside us. Watch the waves as they bounce off the sides of the canal forming a chris-cross pattern. It takes a while before they settle down.

Another beautiful day has begun.

Addendum:

After more careful analysis by zooming in on my pics, I now believe the large planet on the left is the Neptune-Jupiter cluster, the right-most light is Saturn, with Mars in front of it, so that light is a cluster too. The dimmest light, just to the left of Saturn-Mars is Venus, as shown in the Skywalk app.

These three lights all ascend in unison on the same trajectory as the sun coming up behind them. Pretty Cool.

All the pics were taken with the Wyze CAM v3, with an optional 32 GB micro SD card which records about 48 hours of what it “sees.”

The planet-star alignment calcs and pics are all from Star Walk, an app on my iPhone.

Sea Gate Marina ICW mm 194

Nicely protected marina carved in out of the bank on Adam’s Creek. Transients get to tie up on the fixed docks on your way into this nice hurricane hole before the fuel dock. There IS room to go in and turn around for an easy morning departure. Fender boards will come in handy.

This marina is owned by a local homeowners association. (The homes are beautiful!). The marina doubles as a locals “hang out” in the afternoon and reportedly there’s a 7:00am coffee club. Nice folks! Very friendly. 50A worked, but spigot near us was not working. Also, both ice coolers were EMPTY?!?! What’s up with that? Lack of attention to some of the business basics.

“Rough around the edges, but has some redeeming qualities.” e.g. free from current compared to many spots around here. No need to fret or time your arrival with slack tide!

We came in at dead low; 5 ft of water in the skinniest spot.

Fender Boards – 2” PVC

Perfect day for crossing Bogue Sound, ICW mm 224-207; still in NC!

Cloudless sky, calm sea, 6 mph wind.

This is all west of Beaufort NC, which we will pass through this afternoon without stopping.

BOW-firt NC should not be confused with BEE-U-ford SC… (This how the locals pronounce their city-names which share the same spelling.)

A good Frenchman pronounces them both BOW-fouR… being sure to roll that “R” on the end! LOL

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Shelly took the helm for most of the day today. There WHERE some challenges… namely “skinny” areas like this one she just steered us through. There were also a number of sports fishermen who shamelessly “waked” us and everyone else … seemingly at full throttle in close range (< 50 ft ).

Aerial shots of our position this morning AND 365 days ago!

Mile Hammock Bay, this morning. There were 3 other boats, all sail, in here last night. One yawl from Boston, one larger sloop from Norfolk, and a sloop we saw at Carolina Beach State Park Marina from Kingston NY. One of our favorite stops on the Hudson River. We hope to meet them up the blog!

We entered Mile Hammock Bay at dead low tide yesterday afternoon. We had 8 feet of water in the shallowest spots. Great anchorage. Plenty of room for all.

Below: April 4, 2021

Our boat, early splashed and alone at the S-Dock on April 4, 2021, SS3, Lindenhurst Long Island NY. (See it on Google Earth). Preparations were being made back then for our start of The Great Loop. We have fewer than 20 “travel days” when she’ll return here for celebrations for a few days before heading north to New England for the summer.

Gift from a NEBO friend…

Shellerina underway eastbound at ICW mile marker 331, near the Shallotte Inlet. There was a huge campground here and a fellow NEBO customer saw us coming towards them on Nebo. So, Jon Market snapped this pic of us going by. Then he used the NEBO messaging feature to send me a picture of my boat! The best part of this is we don’t know each other! We are just members of the NEBO online community, and because of Jon’s thoughtfulness, we now have a pic of our boat underway on the ICW! How cool is that?!

THANK YOU, JON!

The campground can be seen in this Google Earth pic just west of Shallotte Inlet in NC.

NEBO is the technology that gives you THIS when you click on Where is Shellerina in the blog’s menu. It also gives us reports and maps like this one showing our passage today.

Here is today’s passage report, as well as a Summary Report for all of March.

Yah… NEBO is pretty cool. We don’t just have the app on our smart phone. We actually have the NEBO mini-appliance which has a SIM card and GPS receiver to increase the reliability over just an app on one’s smart phone.

18-20 “travel days” until we cross our wake.

Ray pulled out his online charts and calculator tonight. We have 18-20 full “travel days” before we finish the Great Loop. With today being April 1st, that means we’ll finish sometime in early or mid May. Work schedule and weather (and rest) are the two driving factors. Then we hope to make Mystic CT, Salem MA, and several points in Maine this June. There are so many loved ones on Long Island NY and New England. We can’t wait to see everyone again!

Shorter term Float Plan:

Tomorrow night we will anchor at Mile Hammock NC (mm 244.5). Then we’ll make Sea Gate Marina (mm 194) for Sunday night. We should land in Grace Harbor River Dunes (mm 173) early Monday morning and stay put for a stormy week and focus on work. That port offers impeccable protection from the elements.

30 mph winds expected in this area Wednesday afternoon.

Michael’s Seafood – Carolina Beach NC

Darn good! Almost as good as Shelly’s.

Close to the State Park Marina… *almost* walking distance. Also got a Rx filled at CVS across the street from Michael’s Seafood.

The mussels broth was perfectly seasoned. Mixed some of the broth with our chowda! Great taste together.
These two things filled us up. Cheap date! Cheap dockage & fuel $3.80! Anchoring tomorrow night at Mile Hammock. Good life … on The Loop!