News from Brian and Kathy Marsh aboard TUNDRA:
(Written November 17)
I start back on August 21st - the day we sailed out of Sarnia into headseas on Lake Huron and made the big left turn down the St Clair river into a beautiful sunset. The first weekend we layed over at Fawn Island visiting boating friends Bill and Eva Doyle and generally organizing down below.Our son, Rod, drove down from a business trip to Toronto and we were able to have a quality visit. It was so great to see him, however short the time.
Our good cruising friends Herb and Barb were waiting in Detroit and gave us lots of local information and assistance through Lake Erie and the Erie Barge Canal. We were very appreciative of their experience as Brian had sprained his ankle early in the trip and wasn't feeling too peppy. At Tonnawanda we took the mast down and laid it on deck amidships in order to accommodate the lift bridges and 37 locks. The Barge Canal is a wonderful sail through early american history. The canal provided transport via packet boats for people and produce into the mid states frontier in the early 1800's. Mules pulled the barges and one can almost feel how they must have strained with heavy loads.
As we approached the Hudson we said goodbye to Herb and Barb as they travel much faster in their trawler than our 5-6 knot average. Our sail down the Hudson included a stopover to restep the mast, then several anchorages and much beautiful scenery before we sailed under the statue of liberty at 11 knots on an ebb tide. What a thrill! We've been in tandem with a couple from Port Stanley on Windswept 4, a C&C 40, for most of the trip. They're heading south and have just retired, too. We have lots in common. We experienced salt water first at Peekskill, just north of the Tappen Zee bridge north of New York and what an exciting time.
Mid september we left from Sandy Hook and went outside to Cape May. Our first `overnighter' in the Atlantic was very kind to us except for fog on our arrival. This necessitated standing off for a couple of hours as the sun burned off. Here we saw our first jelly fish alongside and talked to others in the same circumstance. Interesting to hear voices and sounds and not see people. One of the first sightings was of a great dane on a trawler. Brian insisted I come and see the horse on it's bow. Shortly after, the horse barked! Hilarious.
Cape May was jammed with boats of all description. Many fishermen, tour boats, crabbers, etc. It was a little tricky having a sunshower in the cockpit.
Next morning we powered through the Cape May canal and caught a flood tide up Delaware Bay. It was another record passage and just in time to transit the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and set anchor in Piney Cove before a howling northwester came through. Weather had been wonderfully warm and sunny and kindly to this point. The front was shortlived and we moved into the Sassafras river to gain some shelter. Here Windswept and ourselves happened on a crab fisherman and bought a bushel of crabs for $25.00. Cooking them was some feat. We thought we'd die laughing with crabs careening through our dinghys, boats, and everywhere except the pot. Subsequently we shared them around with neighbouring boats. What a great welcome to the Chesapeake.
Our next stop was Baltimore. Here Phil and Marie Clark, friends from SYC, guided us into a great marina where we left Tundra for a short visit home.
My sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor and John, arrived from Vancouver via plane and taxi. We were able to enjoy several days touring Baltimore, then sailed to the West River to commission Galiander who had been shipped from B.C. Several days of routine commissioning went smoothly and we were off to St Michael's on the Eastern Shore of the Bay. Here we enjoyed hospitality of Lea and Gerry Warwick, Alberg 37 friends. They generously let us use their car and we explored Annapolis for a day. A highlight here was attending the Tilghman Volunteer Fire Dept Fair. Oyster shucking and crab cleaning contests were great fun and we ate samples of all. Also, Sherrill and Wayne Bower sailed in on their Alberg 37, Teelock, for an eyeball. It was great to meet them and garner some of their local knowledge.
The wind was very favourable on October 21st so we beat up the Miles River and flew down Eastern Bay and Chesapeake Bay to the Solomons. Here we sat in Back Creek at anchor. The harbour was packed with canadian snowbirds, several german boats, and a swiss boat. Our dear american friends were really outnumbered and so hospitable again. Here we had Kaye and Tom Assenmacher, the editors of our Alberg 37 newsletter, for dinner on Tundra and enjoyed their company immensely. Here the weather perked up a little again and we sailed on down to Kaye and Tom's dock in Kinsale. Here we ran aground 100 feet from the dock and experienced our first `heel and tow', thanks to Windswept and friendly neighbours in their whaler. Tom and Kaye took us all to the local yacht club oyster fest and the hospitality and food were truly wonderful.
Temperatures were bouncing from 30 to 50 degrees encouraging us to head south more quickly. Some nasty weather ensued so we made several short hops down the Chesapeake. We spent a day drying out at Norfolk in the Portsmouth Hospital harbour located at mile 0 of the intercoastal waterway. As Brian said "The Chesapeake spit us out!" We had a most raucous and invigorating sail down the lower bay and this area just exudes the mighty american military presence. With depths being too `skinny' for us in the Dismal Swamp we proceeded down the Virginia Cut. Great Bridge was the next stop and this leg of the trip introduced us to ICW bridge manoevring. The dock was alongside a busy residential area of Norfolk. Provisioning was good and easy. Navigating gets much more challenging in this area and keen attention is needed to stay in adequate depths and accurately between the very dependable ICW markers. Winds picked up as we went through Coinjock so we snuggled in at the Buck Island anchorage to wait for weather to settle before tackling Albermarle Sound. We launched the dinghy and putted through the local marsh enjoying the early evening calm before trick or treating the neighbouring boats. Galiander even had a beautifully carved pumpkin on deck. Next a m we decided to move and motor sailed across the sound and into the Alligator river. Here we enjoyed some shoreside heat after crossing Albemarle Sound. As we approached the Alligator River, Tundra drag-bounced over a narrow spot. A look behind put us dead centre between the red and green buoys! I guess we can look forward to more of that. November 7th. We're still travelling with 3 other Canadian boats, including Eleanor and John on Galiander, and enjoying all very much. We're commonly known as the CCC (Canadian Cruising Contingent), a wing of the Canadian navy! Flotillas head south every day. Bellhaven proved to be a good anchorage with a Radio Shack right on the main street-amazing! Good friends, Jane and Ted Diamond-previous past commodores and retirees in North Carolina-came down for a fun breakfast visit. Off down the Pungo River to the RE MAYO company, a shrimping dock. Most interesting to see the local watermen bringing in their catch of mullet and rockfish-a good secure stopover after the traffic quieted down. Passing through the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers was entertaining in that we had our first dolphin sightings and some good sailing. An overnight in Oriental provided us a good visit with Pat and George KC9AC of our turkey net. More shrimping industry and it smelled very salty. From Oriental we trecked on down to Beaufort in less than ideal conditions and experienced lots of current in the entrance channel. Anchored in Taylor Creek proved a lovely experience. We watched wild ponies from our cockpit and relaxed in drizzly, windy weather. The museum here catered to cruisers providing a courtesy car for shopping. Their exhibits were very descriptive re local fishing industry and origins of the area. Navigating sure keeps us on our toes! The canals are narrow and we're starting to get into tides and currents again. The next leg took us through Morehead City and on down to Camp Lejeune. This anchorage was a bird watchers paradise with a few bugs invading. It's convenience to the ICW and pure beauty were great assets. One was not allowed to go ashore as it's in a military practice zone. The next morning was beautiful and bright and there must have been a 100 boats of all description moving along. Watching the currents and shoals in the area of Swansboro took all our attention until we noticed a crab boat coming directly for our bow. He veered off within 6 inches of our hull and our lives!!! We were shocked to say the least to see him returning to admonish us for being out of the channel in his crab area. Being in 20 feet of water on the track we told him we were staying where we were. What a scare. We reported him to the Coast Guard and they conveniently lost radio contact with us saying that they could not file a complaint unless we could give a better description of the boat. A friend reminded us that we are now south of the Mason-Dixon Line! Our next anchorage was Carolina Beach and we were glad to be there and slept not to soundly considering our crab experience. Snow Cut leading into the Cape Fear river was running quite a current next day. We appreciate current experience from our own SYC and the St Clair river. Several markers were out here which added to the fun. A flood tide took us into Southport where we fueled, had a welcome shower before heading on to Barefoot Landing via Myrtle Beach. En route we sailed through the `Rock Pile', and area of rocky ledges peculiar to this 15 mile stretch.Barefoot was a free dock with true american commercialism on deck. Factory outlets, etc abound. We left in the early morning rain for Bucksport. Here we saw the John Buck home (one of 3) in total eery ruin. He was the original lumber baron of the area and converted to shipbuilding in his later years. The docks weren't anything special but the shore power and heat and hot showers were a blessing as we had gotten pretty wet in the daily downpour. Georgetown was the next stop. It was entertaining in that several boats slipped clear through the anchorage in front of our very eyes. All dinghied to assist the abandoned vessels. The local residents did all they could to assist and we appreciated their care. Apparently there had been several robberies of yachties recently. I was pleased to move on to the salt marshes and a wonderful anchorage at Whiteside Creek. Here we watched all the bird life settle, the sun go down and a beautiful moonrise. Charleston City Marina is warm respite as the unseasonably cold temperatures have set in.
Our season's greeting's to all our Alberg compatriots and a great big thankyou to Tom and Kaye for their efforts communicating on our behalf. These boats are pretty special and Tundra and crew are very happy going south.
Sincerely, Brian and Kathy Marsh