But the delay wasn’t all bad.  We had time to get together with Joe and Margaret.  They drove over from Orlando, picked us up and we went to Grill’s at Port Canaveral.  The outside tables were a little close together, but we found one in the corner and enjoyed a wonderful Caribbean-style lunch.  They miss getting out so I’m glad they took the time to come see us.

And then, right before we left Cocoa, we found out that Dave and Trish took possession of their new-to-them Lagoon 43 catamaran and it was at the Port Canaveral Yacht Club.  Trish offered to come over and get us so we could see the S/V Calypso before we left and we jumped at the chance.   Catamarans seem HUGE compared to monohulls but we were so glad to see them with another boat!

We were set to leave the next morning and were so ready to go that when the weather window wouldn’t even let us get as far as Charleston offshore, we decided to go up the ICW at least as far as the St. John’s River.  Maybe the offshore winds would be better in a few days and it was time to get going!  We made a long run to Halifax Marina in Daytona Beach, knowing we would be stuck there for several days but at least we would be moving.  We made it to the fuel dock just before they closed, filled the tanks and headed to our assigned t-head.  It was over a week before we moved again, but we were glad to be at a dock with air conditioning.  It was really hot!

And still the weather just would not cooperate!  Twice we had to cancel our reservation for a mooring ball at St. Augustine as the weather changed between the evening forecast and the next morning.  We were lucky though, the people at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina were very helpful, as all the marinas have been going north this year.  Everyone just smiles and says “No problem.  It has been a really rough year for everyone.” 

Its not like we couldn’t have sat on a ball at St. Augustine for a few days.  It would have been cheaper.  But it was so hot, we didn’t want to run the generator every night on a ball when we could stay at Halifax Marina.  Finally the offshore weather looked good for the hop to Beaufort/Morehead City NC so we staged ourselves at St. Augustine.  We didn’t even go ashore, just hung out on the ball, listened to the pirate boats pretend to lob cannon fire at each other to amuse the tourists and got a good night’s sleep.  The next morning we went on up to the St. John’s River and out into the Atlantic.  For the first hour, we wondered if we had made a big mistake.  It was very rough as there as an east wind versus the

outgoing tide and at times we had very little boat speed, but eventually we got far enough away from the inlet that the seas calmed down and we settled into our offshore routine.  It was a three night run into Beaufort and we ran the generator every night so we could sleep.  We were able to motorsail a little bit, but mostly it was just motoring and the little Westerbeke 55 didn’t miss a beat.   We felt very guilty about abusing it earlier and promised it a quiet couple of months in Baltimore.

This time entering the Beaufort inlet, it was so calm.  We almost didn’t recognize the inlet.  There were only a few power boats leaving and no dredge before the turn north into the ICW.    We made the four-hour run up the ICW to River Dunes Marina and settled in for a short stay.  

We had special plans for this stop in North Carolina.  Vaughan and Linda drove from their home in Jacksonville, picked us up and took us home to stay with them overnight.  Not only would we would get to play with FOUR dogs, we could have a real shower!  Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have been showering aboard La Vita exclusively instead of marina facilities.  It isn’t that hard at the dock.  We have plenty of water but sometimes nothing beats standing under a hot terrestrial shower and not having to hold a hand wand over your head.   I know it seems like we have been socializing a lot but really these three couples, plus Scott and Tara in Orlando are the only people we have seen in months.  And all of these friends are as safe as we have been.  So we took a chance and it was certainly worth it!  We had so much fun we forgot to take pictures so here are some older pictures of the dogs.

Linda cooked us a wonderful meal, we had an amazing evening but all too soon it was time to return to La Vita and keep heading north.

After we left River Dunes, at ICW mm 175, we made a fairly long run to an anchorage at mm 130, just off the ICW and immediately before the Alligator River - Pungo River Canal.  We had anchored in this area before, but this night it was so calm we just pulled off to the side of the ICW and set the hook.  Initially we had talked about getting all the way through the canal and anchoring in the Alligator River, but we were concerned about midges (see

earlier posts on these nasty little bugs that live in the Alligator River).  It would be an even longer run the next day to get to Coinjock but we decided to do that instead of risking midges again.

We got up before dawn the next day so we were moving into the canal just after daybreak.  It was a fairly routine transit except for the bear we saw swimming across the canal!  We had seen a bear do this one other time but weren’t fast enough with a camera.  This time we got a picture of the bear before he reached the other side and disappeared into the brush.

During the canal transit, we were passed by our friends Ed and Pam on their new power cat, the Pamalynn III.  They would also be staying at Coinjock so we would have a chance to visit with them there.   It was a long day, but we got to Coinjock before they closed.  We thought it would not be busy going north in late June but we were wrong.  Coinjock was full and anyone without a reservation had to raft up. 

Unfortunately, the Coinjock restaurant, while separating the inside tables somewhat, had a full crowd outside and in the bar and not a mask to be seen.  We opted to cook aboard and walk down to Ed and Pam’s boat to visit, at a distance, after they finished eating at the restaurant.  Maybe it will be a better world in the fall when we come back south and we can enjoy a steak at the restaurant again.  But not this time.

Instead of midges this trip, we were accompanied by lots of dragonflies.  They were all sizes and colors and it was quite entertaining watching them try to hold onto something to catch a ride. 

The next morning we got away from Coinjock as soon as we could - we had to wait for the powerboat ahead of us to leave as we were stacked in like sardines. 

We made a reservation at Atlantic Yacht Basin for the next night so we were only going from Coinjock at mm 50 to AYB at mm 12, so luckily we didn’t have to get going at dawn.  Even though we had delayed our haulout until the fall, we still needed to check the zincs and bottom before sitting for two months in Baltimore.  So we arranged for a quick haul at Cobb’s, with a slip the nights before and after.  The people at Cobb’s are so accommodating; that’s why we love having work done there.

On the way through Norfolk harbor, we saw several NOAA ships idle at the dock.  We don’t know if they are not conducting research because of the pandemic or this was a scheduled furlough.   We also saw three Norwegian cruise ships parked at an unused container ship dock.  This we know is because of COVID-19 and not a scheduled furlough.  At least some of the ships’ crew was aboard because we saw them exercising their life boat motors.  How many people does it take to minimally staff a furloughed cruise ship?  Enough to keep all the systems working but no more than necessary to keep expenses down.

When we turned the corner at the naval shipyard and started past the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel system, the weather took a nasty turn, with much stronger than forecast north winds piling the water up onto Willoughby and Crumps Banks.  It was a very bumpy, wet trip into Little Creek and we were happy to get between the jetties without any problems. 

The next morning Donny and Lonny took us up in the travel lift and Lonny pressure washed the bottom.  It was amazingly clean and there was little else for us to do.  The diver in Cocoa had done a good job cleaning the growth off the bottom but since we had planned a haulout, we did not ask him to check any of the sacrificial zincs.  Turns out they were all fine except for the two small ones in the refrigeration keel cooler.  We changed those out.  We also switched out the bow thruster propeller that had been prepped with Pettit Prop Coat to

keep barnacles off and changed out its zinc and were ready to go back in the water.  This was probably the fastest quick haul we have ever done and was probably not necessary but we now have peace of mind for the summer.  Also, the nettles (jellyfish) are thick in the Chesapeake Bay this summer so there won’t be any jumping in to check things until fall, so we were happy to pay for the quick haul.

The next morning we headed into the Chesapeake Bay for our last few days before Baltimore.  We had initially hoped to be at the Anchorage Marina before the July 4th weekend but we missed that deadline so we decided to wait and go into the Baltimore Inner Harbor after the holiday weekend.  We would anchor out for three nights, then spend the holiday weekend at Solomon’s Yachting Center, plugged into electricity for the air conditioning, and one more night to anchor out before getting to Baltimore.

We have found that 35-40 nm per day in the Chesapeake is a good metric for us so our first stop was planned to be Fishing Bay outside of Deltaville.  But as the day wore on, the sky became darker and darker.  Weather alerts were sounding on the VHF, with strong winds and lightning forecast.  We made a quick right turn into the Rappahannock River and looked for a safe harbor.  We did get some rain but La Vita needed a rinse anyway so it wasn’t too bad.  Instead of spending a lot of extra time going up the Corrotoman River, where we had anchored before, we tried some place new, closer to the Bay - Carter Creek.   The chart made it look like a tight entrance, but it was fine with lots of large boats at the marina near the entrance.  We had plenty of room to anchor and spent a very nice night there.

The previous day’s storms had accompanied a weak cold front so the next day’s forecast was for light north winds, building to northeast 15+ in the afternoon.  We moved further up the Bay to the Great Wicomico River but instead of anchoring in the first cove, Sandy Point, that offers no protection from a north wind, we went a little farther up the river to a new anchorage.

The anchorage is called Rogue’s Point and it was very nice, being open enough to get some breeze during the day but protected from every wind direction except south.  That was fine since normal summer southerly winds were nowhere to be seen.   And not only were there no crab pots near us, we were also upwind of the Menhaden plant in Reedville, which is a requirement for anchoring in the Great Wicomico if the plant is operating.  And it was, we smelled it on the way in.  Menhaden are small oily fish that are not used directly for food, but are rendered down to fish oil and meal before being used for animal feed and other fish oil applications.  A very very smelly business!

We rolled out the boom awnings and stayed there two nights.  We were treated to beautiful sunsets and relaxing days while we waited for the north wind to abate.

It was a short motor from the Great Wicomico across the mouth of the Potomac River to Solomon’s Yachting Center.  We don’t like boating on the weekend, and especially on a holiday weekend, but we got in after all the Friday arrivals and before they were up and going on Saturday. 

This was the first time we had stayed at the marina in Solomons in a long time and it was not what we remembered from years past.  We were further down the marina, not next to the fuel dock but there were so many smaller power boats and so many

trump flags.  They have a pool with a snack bar but we didn’t go anywhere near it.  The pool was packed with people, they were three deep at the snack bar and there were people partying on boats all over the marina.  This was our first stop in Maryland and it was a very disturbing sight; we hoped Baltimore would be a different type of Maryland.    But we did get some laundry done and La Vita straightened up and, since we were at the dock with electricity and air conditioning, did some precooking for the last night at anchor.

Our last night before Baltimore was spent at the Camp Letts anchorage in the Rhode River.  We have anchored here before and, as long as there aren’t too many boats anchored close together, is a safe place for unsettled weather.  And that was what was forecast for the Monday night we would be there.   Luckily there were only a few other boats near us, there weren’t any close lightning strikes and the wind didn’t blow much over 30 kts.  The problem was the wind blew 30 kts from every direction that evening and it rained very hard as we did a 360 on our anchor.   In the last big squall before dark, a smaller power boat drug past a catamaran and ended up dangerously close to a dock.  As soon as the wind abated, the power boat pulled up its anchor and reset it farther away.    We pulled up our anchor just after dawn the next morning and the short motor into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, to the Anchorage Marina, was uneventful.  But we did notice that when we pulled up our anchor there was no sign of life on the power boat.  They probably didn’t get much sleep that night.

This summer at the Anchorage Marina we are on C-dock.   We call this the “cool people’s dock” because everyone that is headed to the pool has to pass in front of our boat.  We have settled in for a two-month stay.  And this part of Maryland is much better -- masks are required at all indoor settings unless you are actively eating or drinking.   Many of the restaurants are still not doing inside seating and everyone seems to be taking the COVID-19 risk seriously. 

We have already walked up the street to the Italian Bakery for cannoli to go and were glad to see that they had a busy take-out business.

And we are ready for the summer heat.  We installed two fans in the cockpit and put up all the awnings. This is the first time the front awning has been up since Brunswick Georgia in 2016.

We think we will be comfortable here, with two grocery stores, West Marine, Ace Hardware, Target, a liquor store and the all-important Italian bakery within easy walking distance.  It isn’t what we planned on doing this summer; there won’t be any sightseeing or much eating out, but, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”  We will work on refinishing the non-skid on the deck, getting some exercise on the promenade and staying healthy.   Who knows, maybe I’ll learn Spanish.  For now, that will just have to be enough.