I guess we’d say boating is lots different this summer from our previous adventures. There’s the obvious, having more space and cruising at a slower pace, but we’re also cruising with a group of four to five other PDQs. We’ve always kind of done our own thing and not really traveled more than a few days with other boaters…so that’s been a little bit different, good, but different.
We’re now in Portsmouth Virginia, tied up at the free dock with the other PDQs.
After we left Myrtle Beach on Monday morning we traveled to Wrightsville Beach NC. It’s always a zoo around there with boat traffic, which is one of the reasons we wanted to not travel on Sunday. There was less traffic on Monday, but it was still busy. The waterway was beautiful. The Cape Fear River was the best we’ve ever seen it. It was totally flat, calm, an absolutely beautiful smooth ride. We’ve been through this part of the ICW several times, but this time we saw it from a different perspective. Being up in the fly bridge, you see further up on land; you see longer distances ahead and you really get to enjoy the dolphins, water birds, and just the marine life in general. We even saw a deer coming out of the water and running ashore.
It was cooler during the first part of the week so we’ve driven from inside several times, not because it was raining, but just because it was ‘cold’. It’s been great having the option to drive from inside or up on the bridge.
Two of the PDQs (“Heron” and “Improv”) caught up with us on Monday and joined us at the Dockside Marina in Wrightsville Beach.
The owners of “Heron” are from Stuart FL. They are the ones that have a home in Block Island RI, the leaders of the group, who instigated the trip north and offered up for everyone to tag along with them toward their summer home. Dick and Carol were the dealers for the PDQs when they were first built and have sold or resold most of the 114 that were built. Now they own one and their daughter has taken over the brokerage business. “Improv” is owned by a couple from San Francisco. A third PDQ, “Tiger”, came from the Bahamas to join the excursion north. “Tiger” is owned by Canadians. They anchored across the water and dingy’ed over on Monday evening for docktails and dinner.
Wrightsville Beach is great stop. There’s a Harris Teeter, West Marine and lots of shopping opportunities. We got the bikes off the boat and biked across the bridge and around town on Monday. But, first thing Tuesday morning (6:20 a.m.), we were underway. Our plans were to stop at one of favorite spots, Swansboro and go in to Yana Mama’s for a late breakfast/early lunch. We had two bridges we had to get opened which only opened on the hour. We timed our departure so we didn’t have to wait too long. But as it would be, our plans had to change. We were about an hour away from Wrightsville Beach and our GPS chart plotter started running out of map detail. We pretty quickly determined that the problem was that the GPS didn’t have the correct map chip. We had several electronic chips on board that the previous owners had given us, but we didn’t find one for the northern US. The couple that we purchased the boat from took delivery of it in Canada and then left Canada and went down Lake Michigan and did the river system to Mobile and then back home to Ft. Myers. They finished the loop in her, so this was the first time she’s been in these waters of the ICW.
We didn’t panic; we keep paper charts on board of everywhere we plan to be. So we pulled them out and David also had downloaded Navionics on his cell phone. He used that until his cell phone bleeped out. When we sold MemoryMaker too…we kept our new Simrad GPS that we’d just purchased. We had it along as a spare, thinking it wouldn’t be used. He quickly plugged it in and we were back in business.We have big 12” screens on both the fly bridge and down in the cabin. The Simrad is probably 8”, but it served us well.
We stopped at Swansboro for fuel, but didn’t take the time to go into town for lunch. The closest West Marine was in Morehead City. A call to them confirmed that they had the chip we needed and a call to one of the marinas we’d stayed at in Morehead City, Morehead City Yacht Basin, affirmed that we could use their transient vehicle to go get the chip. Took us about an hour to get docked and secure the chip. When it plugged it, everything was good again.
We headed to Oriental NC after that. Even after making that run, we were still the first of the PDQs to arrive. Had to cross the Neuse River. Fortunately, it was smooth….we should have kept going, but we’d been traveling since 6:20 a.m. It was 3:50 when we pulled into Oriental. We were pleasantly surprised to find an open spot at the free dock. “Heron”, “Tiger” and “Improv” came in shortly after us.
Another evening of docktails, early to bed again, and after a morning bike ride in Oriental on Wednesday, we headed to Belhaven.
The Neuse River waters wasn’t as smooth on Thursday. We also had to cross the Pamlico Sound, but it was a short run and we were in Belhaven by noon.
Spent some more biking time once we got into Belhaven, another docktail party and dinner on the boat.
Everyone turned in early for the run on Friday up the Pungo Canal to the Alligator River and across the Albemarle Sound into Coinjock. We all pulled out of Belhaven by 6:15 a.m. None of the other bunch are as early boaters as we are, so there’s been a joke going around that everyone was on Doyle time on Friday.
Wasn’t bad when we first left Belhaven. But it was choppy up the Alligator River and we were met with a 3-4 foot chop on the Albemarle Sound. Miss My Money took it pretty good. We again drove from inside the cabin, this time because of the spray hitting the bridge as we plowed through the waters.
“PDQ Freedom” stopped back near Myrtle Beach to replace a battery. After some long days, they caught up with us and again joined the group at Coinjock. They hosted docktails on Thursday night. They’re the only 41’ in the bunch.
Friday morning, we were again the first to leave the dock at Coinjock, left at a late 8:10 a.m. The others followed shortly afterward. We had to get openings for three bridges and go through the lock at Great Bridge.
As we approached the lock, we were hailed on the radio by “Golden”, another PDQ, that had plans to join the group. We locked through with “Golden” and then headed to Norfolk/Portsmouth. We stopped and fueled at Top Rack Marina for the cheapest fuel price on the trip so far ($2.39/gal). We then came on into Portsmouth and found the free docks open. We managed to get everyone tied up. We’ll spend a couple nights here and then head north.
We’ve been able to stay a day or so ahead of the winds from Tropical Storm Ana. Sunday we’ll head up Chesapeake toward Deltaville or Solomons, depending on the water and wind conditions. We’ve now traveled 709 miles from Jacksonville.