Aboard Nine of Cups & New Year's Eve

We left Lin's at 0430 and headed from Boston back to Chesapeake, VA in a rental car chock-a-block full of “stuff”. Where does it all come from and where will we fit it? Geez! The 575 mile, 11.5 hour ride through eight states was exhausting, but seeing Nine of Cups tied up along the wharf was worth the effort. It' good to be home again. We offloaded the “stuff”, exchanged out rental cars (long story, but it made sense), then, since Nine of Cups was still winterized, we opted for a hotel room for the night. What luxury as we fell into a king-sized, comfy bed and sipped a glass of wine. Though we had had romantic thoughts en route, they all disappeared as our heads hit the pillow. The next morning came rainy and raw and begged for lazing at the hotel till nearly noon. We finally set out to move aboard Cups once again.

cups sulking at the wharf

Having been alone since mid-October, Cups was sulking. As we began unpacking and stowing stuff, we soon noticed some problems. First of all, she smelled and leaving all the hatches open to air her out wasn't an option. The aft head which worked when we left wasn't working at all. This was bad news since a replacement forward head was waiting for us in the boatyard chandlery, but the chandlery was closed till Tuesday. David's efforts to fix the head were all for naught since the problem ended up being a bad pump and a spare pump was with the new head. Sigh! Pee bucket and long trips up to the boatyard toilet are in our future.

None of the dock faucets are operative … all have been winterized except for one at the dockmaster's office which meant we had to haul water in 5-gallon plastic jugs to the boat. We cannot see the dockmaster's office from the boat … it's quite a ways up the dock (that's also where the toilets are located). Luckily, we have a car at least for the week, so we can get the fresh water we need to get our on-board tanks sorted out and have running and drinkable water. It's a lengthy process de-winterizing her 5-gallons at a time, so we're using water from the jugs in the meantime for dishwashing and cleaning and have purchased bottled water for drinking.

We'd recently purchased a heater to use in conjunction with a little one we already had on board. It's quite chilly here, but with shore power, we figured we'd be warm and snuggly. We found out rather rudely that our existing heater didn't work when it immediately started smoking when turned on. The new heater heated an area about 12” away, not conducive to “snuggly” in the least.

Several other little niggly things have made their way to “the list”. There were already several repair/maintenance projects on the list... like the new head installation and alternator repair, for instance ... so with virtually no effort at all, David has plenty to keep himself busy for quite awhile. Happy New Year!

A trip to WalMart took care of the warmth issues … new flannel sheets, a bed warmer and two new heaters plus timers. The price for a new head pump at the local West Marine was nearly equal to the cost of the entire new head we'd just purchased from Defender. Our frugal natures willed out. We decided to tough it out till Tuesday when the chandlery opens and we can claim our new head delivery. We've hauled enough water, so that we're now adding drinkable water to the tanks. All problems are surmountable when we're together and back aboard! ;-)

We've been preparing for our New Year's Eve celebration midst the niggly boat problems. We have two bottles of champers aboard … left in the cockpit, chilling is not necessary. We purchased a turkey breast and sweet potatoes and some greens (greens promise prosperity in the new year) for our Eve dinner along with berries and cream for a decadent “crumble” dessert we'll conjure up. We've got grapes for good luck to eat at midnight!

We've already planned our New Year's Day feast with a traditional southern Black-eyed Pea and Sausage Stew, some more greens and cornbread. Though we're Yanks, we figure we're south of the Mason-Dixon line and when in Rome …

Here's the recipe we'll be using …

We wish you an amazing and wonderful 2017. Cheers!

Port of Call: Reedville, Virginia

Fishing Bay to Reedville - Day 4 - 36 nm (passage total: 116 nm) A splendid sunrise had us anchor up at 0730 and on our way from Fishing Bay to our next port of call, Reedville, Virginia. Out the Piankatank River, back into Chesapeake Bay and then up the Great Wicomico River to a fine little anchorage in Cockrell Creek.

sunrise over fishing bay

We were looking forward to Reedville for several reasons. First, we had planned a late afternoon meet-up with Jeremy McGeary, Senior Editor of Good Old Boat. We'd worked with him for the past couple of years, but never had the chance to meet him. He had also told us a bit about Reedville and we were looking forward to visiting the little Reedville Fishermen's Museum and having a chance to stretch our legs after two days without shore time. Second, and just as importantly, we were meeting Jeremy at Chitterchats (“ice cream and gossip parlor”). Need we say more?

reedville map

Once Cups was comfortably set in the creek, we dinghied into the small museum dock and tied up. The approach to the dock was a picture-perfect postcard.

approach to museum dock

We weren't ashore more than a couple of minutes when we were approached by Tom Miller, an off-duty docent for the museum who just happened to be at the museum. He welcomed us and chatted a bit before pointing us in the direction of the museum entrance.

fishermans museum entrance

For such a small museum in such an out-of-the-way place, the Reedville Fishermen's Museum is a gem. After a very informative video, we spent an hour or more viewing the well-displayed exhibits. We learned about the history of Reedville, from Elijah Reed's arrival c.1874 to the present day. The history of Reedville is tied intrinsically to menhaden fishing. Menhaden, you ask? Stay tuned. I'll explain more tomorrow.

fishermens museum

After touring the museum, we were allowed to tour the Walker House, the oldest home in the community. Built in 1875 by William Walker, the museum restored, refurbished and refurnished the house and it now represents a 19th century waterman’s home.

inside the walker house

Along the dock where we'd tied up the dinghy, there were several boats owned by the museum, representative of the vessels that plied the Chesapeake waters and environs. The Claud W. Somers is a classic Chesapeake Bay skipjack, built in 1911 in Young's Creek, Virginia. Sadly, in 1977 Claude W. Somers was struck by a squall near Hooper Strait Light, leaving six drowned, including her owner-captain.

claud w somers

The Spirit of Reedville was of particular interest. Used as the working boat for corralling and netting menhaden (that mysterious fish I mentioned above), this vessel is known as a purse boat.

spirit of reedville purse boat

After the museum, we headed down the town's main street, oddly named Main Street. Reedville is a tiny, sleepy little town – population ~2,341. There are very few shops, no supermarkets, no 7-11s nor Ace Hardwares, but it's quite pleasant and the people are friendly. Lined with stately Victorian mansions, this street was once considered  a Millionaire's Row during the height of the menhaden fishing days. The Morris House was a good example, particularly grand and ornate.

morris house

One of the museum ladies told us to be on the look-out for the “Sears-Roebuck” house. We found the Dey Cottage and did a little research into its history. According to The House and Home Magazine, “the  Russell Dey Cottage is a Sears and Roebuck Modern Home — a home that was mail ordered from a catalog and then built upon delivery, using a 75 page instruction manual, from a kit containing between 10,000 and 30,000 pieces. Sears and Roebucks Modern Homes were built between 1908 and 1940 and it has been estimated that over 70,000 of these homes were sold during this time. It was suggested by Sears that “A man of average abilities could assemble a Sears kit home in about 90 Days.” Russell Dey Cottage or ‘The Hathaway,’ a two bedroom house, was ordered from a Sears catalogue in 1926, for a modest $1,299 and was then barged via steamboat into Reedville, via Baltimore, where it was assembled by local carpenter at the time, Mr. Dotson. The fact that it was barged into Reedville was an oddity at the time, because most Sears Roebuck homes were transported via railroad boxcars because of the weight of the materials being shipped.”

sears mail order house

After the museum tour and walk, we were ready to meet Jeremy … and get an ice cream! Chitterchats is a wonderful little ice cream parlor with great flavors of rich, creamy ice cream. Jennifer, the owner, welcomed us warmly, then set about scooping our choices. Yum.

chitterchats icecream

We managed to waddle our way out of the ice cream shop to Jeremy's car. He offered to take us to the closest supermarket which ended up being about a thousand miles away. We returned to Nine of Cups in the late afternoon to give Jeremy a nickel-tour of the boat and share a glass of wine. Then he was off and we spent a lovely, calm night in the Cockrell Creek anchorage, all geared up for more adventures in the days to come.

jeremy and david

Stay tuned tomorrow for all you ever needed or wanted to know about menhaden. Yup … you're gonna be overwhelmed!

Peperpot Nature Park

We had intended to book a rain forest tour while here in Suriname, but it just didn't work out. Most tours must be booked for a minimum of three days. Everything must be paid in advance in cash and the sleeping accommodations are usually hammocks unless you book a jungle resort. The activities listed did not appeal to us, so we sought alternatives. A new friend we met at the American Embassy suggested a day trip to Peperpot Nature Reserve. It's just over the Suriname River Bridge about 30 minutes from Paramaribo and it seemed like a good alternative. We hired a car for the day and off we went. peperpot nature park suriname

Peperpot, an early 18th century coffee/cacao plantation, is being transformed into a nature reserve with walking tracks and a new discovery center. There's still construction under way … it's a work in progress. We planned on an early morning visit. Peperpot is considered a birding “hotspot”. More than 300 species of birds have been identified in the park, and morning is the best time to see them. We were told monkeys and other critters roam there as well, plus an amazing array of flora. We arrived early enough, but the admission folks didn't quite have it together and it was after 0830 before we paid our fees (SR$18/pp) and hit the trail. There were no trail maps nor other information available, but we were told the trail was 2.5km one way.

flowers at peperpot nature park suriname

The beginning of the trail was muddy after yesterday's showers, but soon opened and dried out into sand, gravel and trampled leaves. Bamboo and palms provided lots of shade. Banana trees and old coffee (kofimama) and cacao trees, remnants of the plantation days, still intersperse with rain forest foliage.

trail at peperpot nature park suriname

Signs in both Dutch and English provided information about both fauna and flora in the park.

signs at peperpot nature park in suriname

We could hear birds, lots of them, but could see none. Other than the kiskadees whose song we easily recognized, we had no idea of what birds were serenading us. When we did spot a few, they were always high in the canopy or deep in foliage preventing any clear photos. Sigh!

kiskadee at peperpot nature park suriname

A worker on a moped went up and down the trail several times. Men with machetes were clearing bamboo and chatting loudly between machete thwacks. A backhoe was working on clearing a muddy area. We were hoping for quiet, but it was hard to find. We reminded ourselves … this park is a work in progress!

Insects abounded. We saw termites nests and long trails of red and leafcutter ants. Butterflies and dragonflies were in abundance, too … brilliantly colored and patient enough to pose for photos.

butterflies and dragonflies at peperpot

The trail was measured out with small signs at .5km intervals. At 2.5 km, the trail continued with no end in sight. We continued walking to 3km and 3.5km. Still no end in sight. We didn't actually know what was at the end of the trail, but we had hoped to get there. Disappointed, we finally turned around and retraced our steps. We had allotted the entire morning to Peperpot, but the late start had robbed us of an hour or more.

On our return to the entrance building, they asked if we enjoyed the plantation house. “What plantation house?”, we asked. “Oh, you didn't see it? Well, you can drive there. It's only 1 km down the dirt road.”

Hmmm … we got back in the car and started down the designated rutted, dirt road only to be further stymied by deep ditches and holes filled with water which we thought our low-slung Toyota would have problems negotiating. I nicked a photo of the plantation house off the Internet to see what we'd missed.

plantation house at peperpot

Though feeling a bit let down, we did, however, see wattled jacanas in the irrigation ditches alongside the road, as well as an unidentified raptor, which was some comfort. Probably common birds in the area, but uncommon to us.

wattled jacana at peperpot nature park suriname

We'd heard people rave about the birds and monkeys and other fauna they'd seen … like anteaters, so we were feeling that our timing was off. And we'd missed the plantation house altogether through naivete on our part and a bit of misinformation. All in all, not our best nature park experience, but the walk itself through the forest was lovely and we can see the potential for good things at Peperpot. Maybe next time?

Dutch word for the day - Drempel …. speed bump

There are many drempels on the roads in Suriname, even on “highways”. Most times they are marked, but sometimes they are not. We hit several that jarred out teeth.