Sunday, March 17, 2024


Glen Allen  

 I felt the need for one last post to complete the story of our 2024 Winter Cruise. Our first day back in Deltaville was warm and beautiful. We walked down the Bradford tree-line driveway to get my car out of storage. I happily took my chair to Fiberglass Beach and read for several hours in the afternoon. Besides being disappointed about cutting our trip short, I also missed the time sitting in the sun with a good book. I did not finish a single one and will make catching up a summer priority. At 4:00 we packed a few things in the car and headed home. We did not do much at the house other than turn on the water and get some sleep. I did, however, spot the blooms beginning to show in my azalea beside the garage door.

First thing Friday, we hit the road again for Beaufort to pick up Barry's Escape. We've made the trip several times, but it seems Google has routed us differently on each. A quick detour was made in New Bern to get lunch and stretch our legs. We made up for the fact that we failed to get a selfie with one of the New Bern Bears. A new feature since our last visit was the thick layer of pine pollen atop EVERYTHING. We still had plenty of afternoon ahead of us when we reached Morehead City so we stopped at Atlantic Beach. Hello, Wind. This area would not be the same without you. It was warm (Yay!) and we were thankful to finally walk this stretch without coats. One thing for sure, Chicago has nothing on this area of North Carolina.   

It was excellent closure to take another stroll toward the pier. It was a nice touch to see real footprints in the sand. The sea foam had a mysterious iridescence. The shorebirds walked along with us.

We walked from the public access beach well past the pier before retracing our steps. And we got a photo on a real beach day. 

One more stop was downtown Beaufort. To bookend our stay, we visited the sign just as we did on our first day in town back on January 8. In the few weeks since we last strolled the streets of the historic district, the Beaufort Inn has been torn down. While we were still at Town Creek Marina, the fire department was using the structure for training purposes. The pine trees were loaded with pollen just waiting to coat all items, whether moving or still. We had a quiet night at the hotel, watching the ACC Tournament until I fell asleep (thankfully missing UVA's epic meltdown). 

Saturday morning we finally bid farewell to the area. Barry left and visited West Marine, because he could. I needed one last beach walk and drove back over the ICW to Atlantic Beach. The wind had the ocean whipped up, and the temperature required jeans and a sweatshirt, but the beach is still the beach. The gulls were searching the surf for breakfast. A half dozen surfers took advantage of the conditions. I took a few moments to watch. I will miss these walks along the lapping waves.

Every walk yielded something new and my final one featured a half dozen large jellyfish washed up in the sand. I found one intact shell and carried it back to my car where I placed it on the dash for the ride home. One last pass alongside the "Visit Us Again Soon" sign and I was on my way. By the time I reached Rocky Mount and Interstate 95, the day's weather had drastically improved. It was clear sailing to Richmond without delay. Before reaching the house, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few things to hold us over until I can unload all the food from Crossroads. With this final photo, the Chicken Salad and Lemonade Tour officially comes to an end.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

What Happened To The Wind?

Hampton to Deltaville  |  5.9 Hours  |  42.1 Miles   

We could not have asked for a prettier morning. We were on deck at 8:00 to unplug power and ready the lines for a quick and easy departure. I took one last long look at the houses across from the marina and their perfect reflection in the Hampton River. We eased off the dock, made a U-turn, and headed into the busy Hampton Roads basin. AIS targets and blue motion vectors lit up the chartplotter screen. Barges and heavy equipment were positioned around the corner as part of the new tunnel construction. We heard the cargo ship Marco Polo on the radio as it turned east into the Chesapeake. Approaching from starboard at 12 knots was the Colorado Express. We slowed and let it pass in front of us. All of this happened as multiple tugs were staging to escort the USS Wasp into the harbor. 

The Wasp is a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship, and the lead ship of her class. I found it interesting that she is the 10th Navy vessel to bear the name since 1775. She is designed to accommodate Landing Craft Air Cushion for fast troop movement over the beach, Harrier jets, and the tilt rotor Ospreys. The low and strong morning sun made it difficult to catch a good photo, but she made an impressive silhouette. That same sun nicely illuminated the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse on the banks of Fort Story. Once the Wasp passed I was able to get a better view of its 843-feet length and 104-feet beam. Not evident was its draft of 27 feet. Once clear of traffic, we turned north into the Chesapeake Bay. A couple dolphin came over to say hello and spent a few moments playing in our bow wave. 

The majority of our trip was surreal. The wind that has battered us for two months was absent. It was difficult to distinguish water from sky in the haze. The breeze was below five knots all day, and spent a great deal of time below one knot. We passed Wolf Trap Lighthouse around noon and noticed that it was getting a much-needed fresh coat of paint. The Coast Guard was conducting rescue exercises at the mouth of the Piankatank River. We rounded Stingray Point Light and headed up the Rappahannock River. The Norris Bridge was barely visible on the horizon through the haze.

A turn to port took us into Broad Creek channel and past the 1BC day marker. I went into deckhand mode and readied our dock lines for arrival. Looking back toward the Bay, the water was unbelievably flat. We were fortunate to arrive at high tide as there was not a lot of water in the Broad Creek channel. Shoaling continues to make the entrance challenging. No preferred blue and green depths were displayed on the tablet, and only a thin stripe of yellow remained among all the red. Our only excitement of the day occurred on the final turn into our marina when we came nose to nose with a work barge. We moved over and hugged the pilings at Regatta Point to allow the barge enough room to pass. Barry anticipated its wake and throttled up quickly so as not to get pushed into the pilings. 

We appreciated the low wind as we easily backed into our slip and reattached all of our dock lines. We were disappointed that we couldn't give Crossroads a bath because the water has not yet been turned on at the docks. It is still early in the season despite today's temperature in the 70s. I took my chair to Fiberglass Beach and enjoyed the warm afternoon and our usual peaceful view. After dinner we walked around the marina to see what was new. Dozens of Bradford pear trees line the marina's main drive. They were in full bloom (but did not smell) and formed an arching canopy leading to the lighthouse. Tomorrow morning we'll uncover my car, load a few essential things, and head home. Friday we'll head to Beaufort to pick up Barry's Escape. At that point we'll be back to life, back to reality. 

That brings us to the end of the 2024 Winter Cruise -- more appropriately branded as the Chicken Salad and Lemonade Tour. We thank you for following along, for your emails and texts, and your visits. This trip was definitely not what we anticipated, but I tried to capture an honest account of what was happening. Truthfully, writing this blog helped me process the unfortunate change of plans and put everything in perspective. We had an opportunity to explore a few new places and visit some old favorites. We will try again next year to reach the beautiful blues of The Bahamas, with a tentative departure date of Sunday, December 29. Take care and keep in touch. 

[Note: Turns out we end this voyage on my 750th post since starting this blog on January 8, 2018. That's over six years and more than 20,000 miles of memories ... with upward of 71,400 views. I find all of those numbers to be incredible.]