Home again..

 

With beginnings come endings…. so it is with my ‘there and back again’ adventure.

IMG_20140327_072547902_HDRValinor’s name has it’s origin in that J.R.R. Tolkien adventure tale. At the end of the tale, the heros sailed off to Valinor, the undying lands, with the elves. Well, I’m not a hobbit, elf or hero, and I found no elves to take me anywhere along my adventure, at least none that would admit it. But it does feel a bit like leaving for some final place as I approach the end.

I’m in Solomons as I write this, having sailed from Hampton with friend Roger Long. Roger’s boat’s name,  ‘Strider’, also has its origin in the same Tolkien tale. I will meet some SOS cruising friends at Pirates Cove Marina (Galesville) on Saturday/Sunday, then head back to home and hearth on Monday with my wife who generously consented to my extended wanderings.

It has been a long adventure from Last October 28th when I set sail from Annapolis to now. I would not trade the experience for most anything – interesting, challenging, quiet, fun, sometimes exciting, illuminating, sad, and an assortment of other emotions/reactions that may only become apparent with time to reflect.

This is the last of the posts specific to this adventure. The travel feels appropriately complete. It felt that way when I arrived in Hampton – home Chesapeake Bay waters after clearing Mile ‘O’ of the AICW. I’ll spend some time now thinking about the trip and perhaps commenting on aspects from a  cruising and personal perspective.

In unexpected ways, it has been circular – apart from the round trip nature. I docked here at the Chesapeake Biological Lab, a sister lab of CEES to AEL where I served on the faculty 30 years ago. Doesn’t feel that long! Roger, my occasional sailing partner, is the naval architect who designed the Rachael Carson – CBL’s Research vessel I’m docked next to (…adjacent to which I’m docked ? I was an English major once – more than 30 years ago).

IMG_20140409_195540184It has been fun, occasionally sharing on this blog, hearing from friends and strangers (friends I haven’t met yet) who have followed these travels. I made new friends along the way, and look forward to future adventures of some sort on the water. The sailing community is a fascinating group of folks almost impossible to characterize simply – they each  find some sort of fulfillment in sharing time on the water with others of common interests – or alone.

Thanks to all for being there, sharing your experiences, and I hope to encounter you again in other travels.

Fair winds!

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The other Mile ‘0’

Some weeks ago, February 28th, I said goodbye to this Mile ‘0’ marker at the southernmost point of the US in Key West. On April 5th, I passed the other mile ‘0’( a second time) that marked the northern beginning of the AICW in Norfolk,VA. A bit over 4500 miles later it has been an adventure that began October 28 when I headed south.
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Previous posts have recounted some of the sights and experiences along the path that this round trip to Key West covered. This post almost closes that loop – except for the final run up the Chesapeake to home port in Annapolis.
After a very slow up current passage of the Cape Fear River, we arrived at the Carolina State Park Marina (Mile 300). I stayed here a couple days on the way south. It is a very modern, well managed – and inexpensive marina.

 

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As you can see, I was a bit ahead of the traffic coming north. In fact, mine was the only occupied boat.
Timing the departure from here was important for heading down Snow’s Cut – notorious for very strong tidal currents. We hit is right, and in fact caught favorable current most of the day to arrive at Swan Pt Marina – a 52 mile day.
Swan Pt (mile 248) is owned and operated by a mom and daughter team. It’s hard to exaggerate the great service they provide at this admittedly rustic marina. Both were on the dock to accept lines, took the time to neatly coil the excess in proper nautical fashion, provided transportation to the nearby store for supplies, and made a special trip out to refill my cigar stash that was running low!

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At mile 185 we anchored in Cedar Creek, a very quiet anchorage. The good rest was preparation for an unexpected rough trip up the Nuese River. A Stop at R E Mayo (mile 157) was another treat that included stocking up on fresh caught seafood for the next couple dinners.

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Like so many other anchorages, the Pungo/Alligator River stop produced beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

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… and a surprise with an early AM view of the passing space shuttle (sorry, no pic).
After a night at the Alligator River Marina, we experienced a nasty rough ride across the Albemarle Sound – too busy for pictures. It had been flat, calm on the way down.

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A long day took us to the south Mills lock on the Dismal Swamp route.

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And an overnight stop at the visitors center.

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This was my favorite part of the trip – in both directions… a beautiful flow through flooded timber and marsh lands.

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At the north end is Deep Creek Lock – a picture of Valinor as we exit the lock…

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From here, it’s just a few short miles back to the AICW Mile ‘0’ post and a slip at Hampton Public Pier beyond.
There follows just some pretty pix of that section of the AICW …’

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If you’ve ever thought about doing this trip, stop thinking and start doing!