Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Monday, October 6, 2003
Last minute details took half of the morning. In the past weeks we had stripped the condo, palmed much of the furniture off on our kids, stuffed some into storage and the rest into Kibon. Our tenants took over. The smell of winter was in  the air. Time to shove off south. The plan is to run outside from Jones Inlet directly to Cape May, New Jersey. Slogging up through NJ-ICW and Barnegat Bay in the Spring with its serpentine shallows was a once-in-a-lifetime experience; hopefully, no more.  At Kibon's speed, it's about a seventeen hour overnight run. Jon would have loved it. He'd enjoyed a lifetime affair with the Atlantic and all its bays and sounds and was always ready to stand in for Mom on any ocean crossing. Best friends, Steve Koller and Frank Marinaccio, stood in for Jon. We left Long Island at 2:00 pm, savored Margaret's stew and Kay's fried chicken during the night, enjoyed a glasslike sea, marveled at the lights of never-asleep Atlantic City which is simply awesome from three miles offshore and arrived at Cape May as dawn gave just enough light to find our way through the inlet.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Utsch's Marina in Cape May harbor is one of the best in the high-priced northeast. Fuel is always a little less than anywhere else nearby, diesel right  now is $1.39, they're always helpful, and gave us a temporary slip until Kay (who hates oceans) could arrive via the Garden State Parkway. She did, Steve and Frank said goodbye, took Kay's car north for winter storage, and we, finally just the two of us, headed out into the glass ocean again (Kay loved it!) to cross over to Lewes, Delaware.

We passed the Harbor of Refuge Light at the south end of the mile long breakwater and crossed the harbor to enter Roosevelt Inlet at Lewes.  We followed the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal to the municipal dock.  This is not a place to stay for a night, but it is good to a visit.  The first 6 hours are free, but the charge for the rest of the 24 hour period is $2 a foot for the "length overall."  There is water and 15 or 30 amp service.  We decided not to ask the other marina for prices.  We would continue on down the canal to Rehoboth Bay.  The tide was low but should be going up.  We walked around the town for an hour and returned to Kibon and cast off.  About 500 feet south of the Lewes drawbridge we ran over what appeared to be gravel on the bottom, but we were able to clear it by going closer to the starboard bank.  We draw four feet and there were some places where the depth sounder showed very little water under the keel.  There was silting where side channels came in, and we sort of slid through the muddy bottom.  We passed through meadows and treed areas.  There were even some very fancy and some very plain homes along the section as we neared Rehoboth Bay.  There was more silting just after the Rehoboth Bay Bascule Bridge.  The bridge tender tried to direct us through, and we finally just plowed through the mud.  The entrance to the Bay was very shallow, too.  The Army Corps of Engineers  certainly don't bother to keep the waterway navigable.  We asked the bridge tender what he did if no boats came through.  He said he gets an occasional boat.  Most come back.  When we got to the bay we understood, because it was mostly 2 to 3 feet deep.  There is the channel that goes across, and we could see good sized boats on the eastern shore, but we couldn't find the way across.  We dropped anchor for the night just off the channel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003
We awoke to a mist enshrouded lake.  The sun was coming up and cast a red strake over the water.  The mist dissipated until the sun rose above it.  Then it descended again.  We raised the anchor and followed the well-marked channel toward the Indian River Inlet.  By this time the mist was gone, and we made our way through the fishing boats gathered around the inlet and out into the ocean.  We had a beautiful ride down to Ocean City.  The winds were calm, growing to 5 knots, and the seas were 2 to 3 feet.  The inlet at Ocean City is well marked.  The tide was still going out, so we had to power up the engines a bit, but the entrance was good.  We called the White Marlin Marina, which is the first one on the right.  It was mostly empty when we came in at noon, but during the afternoon five boats came in.  Tom, the owner of the marina, said he gets several of them every day (mostly southbound deliveries) now through Thanksgiving when he closes down and goes south himself.  We walked over to the boardwalk and found a place to have lunch.  Many of the stores and restaurants are only open on the weekends now.  We visited the Coast Guard who advised against going down the inside passage at this point.  There are several places with depths less than 4 feet.  After our experience in the Lewes Rehoboth Canal, we decided that since the weather was still good we would go outside down to Chincoteague tomorrow.  Kay watched all the captains washing down their boats and suggested that would be a good way to spend the rest of the afternoon.  Pearce got out the bucket, the soap, and the scrub brush.  Kay closed all the windows.  Kibon came out looking gorgeous. 

Thursday, October 9, 2003
We rode our bicycles up to the repair shop where Pearce got a new tube because his tire was not holding air.  He also got a new seat.  The store had "used" seats, and he got a practically new one that is better suited to his posterior.  Kay got new handle grips.  We stopped at 7-Eleven to buy milk and eggs, returned to the boat, and took off.  We left Ocean City at 10:45 am and came into Chincoteague Inlet at 4 pm.  The seas were 2 to 3 feet and the winds were light and variable in the morning.  During the afternoon the winds increased to 10 knots and the seas were 3 to 5 feet.  Chincoteague Inlet is well marked outside, and local reds and greens take over inside.  It took almost an hour to follow the squirrelly channel up to the town.  We had a few local boats to show us the way which was good, because at one point we passed between an obvious shoal only 20 feet off the shore.  The bottom rose to 7 feet below the keel.  We were headed toward the town dock when someone hailed us from the Chincoteague Inn and asked if we would like to tie up there.  Since there were several tables full of people getting ready to enjoy the sunset, we decided that was a good place to stop.  The owner charged $20 for the night -- no water or electricity.  We had to climb over the railing to get onto the deck.  We walked a block or two into the town, looked at a few restaurants, but decided to eat on board.

Friday, October 10, 2003
We went to Mr. Bill's for breakfast.  Kay had pumpkin pancakes, and Pearce had chipped beef on toast -- shades of WWII and the Korean War!  Pearce had gone out earlier while Kay was washing her hair, and he had talked to the Coast Guard and some local fishermen who said they do run down the inside passage very carefully.  The CG said, "One day we can get over the 4 foot lump and the next day we can't.  You have to pick your tides."  Pearce also talked to the town dockmaster, and we decided to move over to the new dock just north of the swing bridge.  They charge $1 a foot with water.  We are the first boat at the new dock.  They have yet to finish the electricity and the parking, but we can get the bicycles off of the boat.  It was a challenge to dock the boat.  The wind was out of the northeast at 20 knots, and the current was coming in strong from the south.  Once we got into the dock, Pearce had to use the windless to center Kibon between the poles.
We rode the bicycles down to the Chamber of Commerce to buy tickets for the 31st Annual Oyster fest tomorrow.  At $65 for the two of us, it had better be good!  We rode on over to Assateague Island to visit the lighthouse and to see the wild ponies.  The Pony Penning is a July event when the ponies are driven from their island across the narrow channel to Chincoteague and are auctioned off to benefit the Fire Department.  Anyone who has read Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague and the sequels know the whole story.  This weekend, the veterinarians were riding out to check the ponies and give them their shots.  The wild ponies we saw were a mile away, but fortunately we found some tame ponies in town that we could feed and pet.  We did some window shopping, thought about checking out the prime ribs at a local restaurant, but we decided that we needed to put our tired legs up to rest, and we returned to Kibon. 

Saturday, October 11, 2003
Rain came up during the night and continued into the early morning.  The wind was still strong, and we were beginning to wonder what the Oyster fest would be like.  The rain let up during the morning, we donned our slickers and took off on the bicycles for the noontime start.  Kay lined up for fried oysters while Pearce brought back two oyster fritters.  Then we headed for a cup of coffee and then over to the boiled crabs.  Next on to the raw oysters, the steamed oysters, and a mug of beer.  The mist became heavier, so we retreated under some tents for shelter.  Those in the know had brought their own tents, tables, chairs, hibachis, coolers, and other amenities.  They even came equipped with trays because all the servings were huge.  There is a competition for the best decorated table.  We not only saw decorated tables, the canopies and tents were part of the decor, and there were even some people in costumes.  Two ladies in Medieval gowns with lots of décolletage might have been happier if the weather was warmer and drier, but they seemed to be enjoying their food.  We contemplated the clam fritters and the hush puppies, but our tummies were full.  Kay got a cup of clam chowder to warm up, and then we decided to call it an afternoon.  The ride back to Kibon was a little wet, and we were grateful to climb aboard for a rest under a warm blanket in front of a stupefying movie.  Dinner was a hot roast beef sandwich, and we are ready for bed.

Sunday, October 12, 2003
Wouldn't you know that today is sunny and clear!  After a leisurely breakfast, we rode over to the Methodist Church for their 11 am service.  It is one of 3 churches on (appropriately) Church Street and was built in 1922, although the congregation dates from 1869.  After the service, we did some food shopping and got a Sunday paper.  Since it was such a lovely day, we thought about riding to the south end of the island where the ponies swim over from Assateague, but we decided to be lazy for another day.  Pearce washed down the boat and did some maintenance chores while Kay checked out the shops on Main Street.  We wrote some letters and walked over to the Post Office to send them off.  Several skiffs were nosing around the bridge with their fishing lines out, so Pearce decided to join them.  He couldn't see what they were catching, but they were pulling in fish that were at least a foot long and throwing them back.  They were using lures that were five to six inches long, ones Pearce didn't have.  He did catch a gar which was very happy to get back in the water.  Kay decided she had better marinate the steak to be sure we'd have something for dinner.  We watched some of the tourists taking pictures of the draggers parked near us on the dock.  We read the paper and watched the sunset.  It shone through the bridge and seemed to be both behind it and in front of it at the same time.  

Monday, October 13, 2003
Another beautiful morning.  We watched several draggers head out, and we followed soon after.  We have decided to head south on the Virginia Inside Passage.  Both the guys from the Coast Guard and some of the local fishermen have given us information about the shallow spots.  The most interesting part is that the bottom changes from day to day.  Our first shallow spot was just north of the inlet into Chincoteague.  As we were backing off a bar in the middle of the "channel" a skiff zoomed by to our port.  So that's where the channel is -- almost up against the port bank!  We continued on, following the marks and carefully watching the depth finder.  We discovered what some fishermen have told us -- the marks are not always right.  They are merely an indication of where the channel was, may be, or could be.  We came to a really interesting place where the marks gave no indication where the channel was, but we could see across some marsh areas where the channel continued.  We tried several approaches and finally found a way that passed very close to the marsh and certainly was not in the open water where a person would think it should be.  We continued south for several miles, passing a few inlets that were not open to the ocean but allowed the water to create shoal areas around them.  We finally reached an inlet and the channel that crossed within yards of the inlet.  We bumped bottom, and because it was a falling tide, retreated to the north side of the inlet.  After checking with some fishermen who had come up behind us, "We haven't tried to cross the inlet, we only know the waters to the north," we checked with some of the other fishermen who were gathered on the shore.  There is a passage across on the very west side, "Go right up to the bank, but don't try it until high tide."  We anchored, and Pearce got into the dinghy at low tide to investigate the channel and the inlet.  He almost went aground in the dinghy, and he decided that this whole thing was a bad idea.  We decided that the best way is to go back to Chincoteague and head south on the ocean.  So we headed back to Chincoteague and our place at the town dock.

Kay's mom had been admitted to the hospital at the end of last week.  The doctor said she had had a small stroke, and she seemed to be stabilized and responding to the medications.  He called again as we were heading along our shallow trek and reported that she had suffered another stroke and was now in more critical condition.  When we discovered that we couldn't continue through the inlet, we decided to rent a car in Chincoteague and drive down to Florida to the hospital.  We are leaving Kibon in the care of the dockmaster, Dave Lewis,  in Chincoteague and will head toward Florida tomorrow.

Next: A Sad Day In Florida