Norfolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach and Side Trips

On Tuesday (8/25) we departed the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the short 24.6 mile cruise to Norfolk & Hampton VA. The cruise took us along the Elizabeth River thru the towns of Chesapeake and Portsmouth. This area has an enormous amount of industry along the shoreline, but it’s lifeblood is tied to the US Naval Station and all of the massive shipbuilding in the area between Newport News and Norfolk.

We arrived midday at Old Point Comfort Marina which is adjacent to the Fort Monroe in Hampton VA where we booked a slip for the month of September as we had already made travel plans to visit our kids/grandkids in TN as well as make a quick trip to our Gatlinburg cabin. During our ~30 days in the area we enjoyed visits to Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Virginia Beach, the Virginia Air & Space Center as well as several other local attractions.

We highly recommend Old Point Comfort Marina as well as The Deadrise restaurant which is within walking distance.

We took a quick break to Tennessee to see our two granddaughters get baptized.

Upon returning from TN travels in mid September we took on additional crew consisting of son Michael Bailey, daughter-in-law Sarah and baby Elizabeth (only ~4 months old). Michael and Sarah and Elizabeth were able to visit Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown during their stay with us. Below pictures are walking around at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, VA and by an outdoor history of the USS Wisconsin located there.

Waterside Marina one of our favorites and home to the annual AGLCA Spring Rendezvous

Near the end of the month of September we made yet another trip away from the boat to visit relatives in Las Vegas for a wedding and a short Board of Directors meeting that Larry attends quarterly.

Vegas was very muted due to COVID, but we had an excellent time visiting relatives (including Dora, the cat). You may recall that Dora actually started the Great Loop with us back in Tampa Bay during February where she decided to jump off during the night while docked at a residence in Apollo Beach. We later recovered her, nursed her back to health and flew her out to Las Vegas to live with Mary’s mom Donna. Dora was 4 lbs and in poor health when we recovered her in Apollo Beach, but she’s fully recovered now and weights over 10 lbs.

Dora the cat

Our final entry for the 2020 boating season will concluded with these images of the boat in winter storage at the Atlantic Yacht Basin. We’ll be back in late April to restart our Great American Loop adventure.

living the Dream in covered storage at AYB

Dismal Swamp and Great Bridge (Atlantic Yacht Basin)

We pondered the 2 route options to get from Albermarle Sound to Norfolk and settled on the ‘most scenic’ Great Dismal Swamp route. It was an excellent choice but a little spooky due to the shallow drafts and very skinny channel width. It also included 2 locks along the way.

Good news was that we were the only boat headed north that Sunday and we met only one sailboat headed south which was easily passed about midway through.

Sailboat passing in the Dismal

We did have a few ‘bumps’ along the way from floating stick debris and experienced a ‘high temp alarm’ on our port side engine shortly after entering the canal (so we pretty much ran the entire trip on only the starboard engine).

After the Dismal Swamp, we passed under the Great Bridge on our way to the Atlantic Yacht Basin for the night. On our way to dinner we learned that the Great Bridge is a national historic site where a battle took place in 1775.

We found Vino Italian Bistro Sunday night — a great little Italian Restaurant and had a 3 course meal — Salmon and Veal Parmesian, WOW!! Too much food — we had leftovers for Monday.

On Monday (8/24) we had Atlantic Yacht Basin take a look at the port engine to see what the issue was with overheating. We ended up pulling the boat out of the water to find and fix the problem, and while it was out also to fix the bow-thruster, touch-up some bottom paint and check zincs.

We learned quite a bit during this:

1) They fixed the bow-thruster, but this could have been done while in the water we were told — good to know for next time…

2) They said there was an oyster shell in the port engine water intake, and this was causing reduced water flow causing the heating problem. When we left AYB the next day however, the engine heating problem resurfaced. They said we could come back and they would take another look at it, however we were already underway to Norfolk area — Fort Monroe, VA. Still need to figure out what is happening with the motor overheating.

3) When back in the water, the air conditioner stopped working and the pump overheated. They said the pump may have needed to be re-primed after the haul-out. We learned this after the pump was not working anymore, so ordered a replacement pump, and went to Walmart to get 3 more fans to make the next few 90 degree days more bearable.

Crossing Albemarle Sound

Manteo to Elizabeth City / Lambs Marina (8/19 thru 8/22). We stayed 2-nights at Lambs Marina which is very near Elizabeth City but in the very rural village of Camden NC. This was our last night in NC before we headed up the river to the Dismal Swamp.

Photo of a blimp hanger near Elizabeth City.
Internet image of the blimp and hanger

More Washington then on to Manteo, OBX

Outer Banks / Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds / Manteo / Nags Head / Alligator River (August 17th – August 20th)

Monday morning (8/17) we got up and walked around Washington, NC looking for shopping places open. We had lunch with Logan and Dawn at the Seafood Shack before they headed out on their 7 hour drive back to Kingsport.

We were sad to see the girls leave on Monday and spent that night at the Waterfront Docks again in Washington, NC. We did a walk around and read about some of the historic buildings in the downtown area.

We found an excellent local restaurant Down on Main Street that was serving ‘fried green tomatoes with homemade pimento cheese on top’, fresh local seafood and… running a special on Highland Brewery’s Oatmeal Porter for 2 bucks‘… a great way to end a Monday.

After a brief overnight stop Tuesday back at Dowry Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC we departed early Wednesday (8/19) for Manteo, NC on the north end of the Outer Banks. It was a long but beautiful trip that included a canal. We also had an awesome view of a crop-dusting plane that flew right over the boat — just couldn’t get to phone quick enough to get a picture. Along the Alligator River, Larry saw a couple of alligators and lots of birds, Mary worked out and cleaned on the boat some…

Going through the Alligator River Swing Bridge

The Alligator River and Albermarle Sound are filled with crab pots. We were racing a storm into the marina at Manteo. The canal into the harbor was very shallow and complicated but we made it into our slip just in time before the storm hit. Very near our docked boat wat the Queen Elizabeth II.

Later that evening we visited the town of Manteo where we found the Lost Colony Brewery (highly recommended).

Thursday morning (8/20) we took a Lyft ride to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site home to the “Lost Colony” theater and adjacent to the Elizabethan Gardens.

While visiting Fort Raleigh, we heard that evidence of the Lost Colony had been found in Cape Hatteras… the saga may continue still…

After a morning of touring the lost colony and Elizabethan Gardens, we took Lyft to the beach in Nags Head OBX and had lunch before heading back to the boat.

August 12th thru August 16th – Girls weekend on Living the Dream!!

Wow, what a crazy busy week! New Bern NC (Bridgeton Harbor Marina) then Oriental NC (Oriental Marina and Inn) then Outer Banks Ocracoke (Anchorage Inn and Marina) then Belhaven NC (Dowry Creek Marina) then Washington NC (Washington Waterfront Docks)

We arrived in New Bern, NC from Beaufort on Wednesday (8/12) and rented a car to pick up the girls on Thursday (8/13) at Washington NC. Wednesday evening, we drove to downtown New Bern for a stroll around.

We found that New Bern has a bear mascot and that it was the birthplace of Pepsi — who knew!

We had a great burger and beers at the Beer Army restaurant before retiring back to the Bridgeton Harbor Marina, across the water from New Bern.

After picking up the girls on Thursday (8/13) at Washington, NC and driving them back to the boat in New Bern, we boated to get to Oriental Marina and Inn by 6 PM. We walked around this small little town and found a great restaurant where we could get fresh shrimp that was caught just off the shrimp boats docked in town.

Friday morning we headed out on a 5-hour boat ride across the Pamlico Sound to the Outer Banks at Orcacoke. It was a beautiful day to get some sun on the way.

When we got there, we hiked to the beach at Cape Hatteras for some Beach Time!

On Saturday (8/15) we shuttled back across the Pamlico Sound to Dowry Creek Marina in Belhaven, NC … it was another great day for sun on the deck of Living the Dream.

When we arrived at the marina, we took a short trip to the town of Belhaven in the courtesy car, but only one shop was open due to COVID… Bummer! We decided to just head back to the marina for some pool time and movies on the boat that night.

Sunday 8/16 we headed back to Washington, NC where we had picked up the girls just a few days before. Logan got some captain training in during this trip.

We stayed at the nice Waterfront Docks located right downtown where everything of interest is just a short walk…

Beaufort NC Town Creek Marina August 9th thru August 12th

Loved this place…. lots of local things to see and do…. dingy to dining… courtesy car to shopping… beautiful weather…

On the way to Beaufort, we crossed through Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune where they do amphibious assault training. On the waterway there were warning signs to indicate not to pass if the lights were flashing due to live firing!! So… no lights were flashing and we went on… We saw this sunken shrimp boat on the way — maybe they didn’t see the flashing lights — just saying…

First night in Beaufort, we ventured into town via dinghy to see whats around. After Dinner we found this great Wine Bar / ice cream shop, had a beer and glass of wine and bought a bottle of wine to take home.

Next day, we walked to town and treated ourselves to Pedicures. Later that evening we Dinghy’d to town again, did some shopping and met some boat friends, Linda and Simon for dinner.

Next its off to Wasthington NC to pick up Logan Addington and Dawn Childress for a fun boating weekend!! Here are some of the sights we saw on our way: Helicopter in a backyard and lots of Shrimp Boats!!

Wilmington August 6th, then Wrightsville Beach 7th, then Swan Point 8th

Thursday morning (8/6) we departed North Myrtle Beach and headed further north along the ICW up the Little River (passing many hurricane damaged docks & marinas). Departing SC and entering NC near Calabash (a famous seafood stop for anyone visiting the area).

By late afternoon (after a few shallow spots) we reached the Southport Marina and entered the deeper water of the Cape Fear River on the way to Wilmington. It was a long day on the water and we did see quite a bit of debris on the water (dock posts with nails, etc.).

We arrived mid-day at the Wilmington City docks where were located right downtown with several dining and entertainment options very nearby. Our overnight dockage was directly across from the battleship USS North Carolina.

Oysters, drinking and dancing….

On Friday (8/7) we departed the Wilmington City Docks to make a quick trip around to Seapath Yacht Club at Wrightsville Beach on the ‘beachy side’. This beautiful marina is located very close to several local restaurants such as Poe’s Tavern (yes there’s actually 3 Poe’s Tavern’s and now we’ve been to two of them) we had access to a courtesy car that allowed us to visit the farmers market and Harris Teeter to re-provision.

Saturday (8/8) was not our best departure as it started with the discovery of a failed bow-thruster and then just missing the bridge opening (which delayed us for an hour).

We stopped to top off the fuel at New River Marina — best price so far at $1.52 / gal Diesel, then just a stones throw away was our overnight port Swan Point Marina. The entry at Swan Point is ‘very shallow’ and we would not recommend this for any vessel drafting >4′ and definitely don’t try it at anytime other that high tide. This location is a working marina and they had a lot of dock repairs underway. Definitely not the best facilities.

Myrtle Beach August 4th and 5th

Tuesday (8/4) after the hurricane pasted we left the safe harbor Osprey Marina for a ~30 mile journey up to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club. We stopped along the way at Barefoot Landing to grab some lunch Taco Mundo one of the many dockside restaurants. After lunch we made the brief 5 mile voyage through ‘the Rock Pile‘ a notorious stretch of narrows lined with jagged rocks. Actually it wasn’t all that scary.

By mid-day we arrived a the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club was one of the largest marina’s we’ve stayed at since leaving Florida in July. The excellent Yacht Club facilities included a pool and restaurant overlooking the marina. Staff and live aboard boaters in this marina were very friendly and helpful.

Osprey – Riding the Storm Out August 3rd

We enjoyed a beautiful and an easy ride from Georgetown, SC to Osprey, SC on Monday (8/3). Seas were calm and the scenery was beautiful along the Waccamaw River. Thousands of Cyprus trees lined the shoreline along with majestic Southern Live Oaks covered in Spanish Moss.

Once we settled in at the Osprey Marina it was time to get ready for the storm. Around 5pm heavy rains started from Tropical Storm Isaias. The wind and rains steadily increased peaking around 8 pm when they stopped briefly then reversed direction until midnight. Things were not too bad where we were, which was an excellent ‘hurricane hole’ shielded by large pine trees on all side. The next morning we learned that the storm had regained hurricane status (85 mph maximum sustained winds) just before making landfall near Ocean Isle Beach at 11pm. Significant damage occurred along the coastal areas from Ocean Isle Beach up to Southport which got the worst of the storm. We were actually suppose to spend 1 night at Southport on Tuesday (8/3), but the marina was closed due to damage from the storm.

Isle of Palms and Georgetown

Friday (7/31) we took a short ride up to Fort Sumter, then along the ICW to Isle of Palms.

A quick Uber ride to Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island for some awesome burgers as just the fix to start this beautiful Friday. Once we finished at Poe’s we were off to the beach for sun and fun.

The water was a balmy 80+ degrees, but refreshing.

We did get to stop in at Duleavy’s Pub a couple of times for refreshments (highly recommend this place).

Early Saturday morning we were up and gone before the fishermen heading to Georgetown. This section of the ICW is very remote, we hardly saw any other boaters for miles. Arriving at Georgetown by lunch allowed us to visit the local shops and museums just off the harbor walk area. After an excellent Saturday evening Mass at St Mary’s, we met some fellow AGLCA Loopers for dinner.

On Sunday morning we hosted our friends the Hubbards (Jared, Mallory and Hillary) for a boat ride along the Winyah Bay.

Early Monday morning we departed for Osprey Marina near south Myrtle Beach to ride out the ‘Tropical Storm Isaias’.