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News Letter - 11 November 2004

Dear All

At last the Boat Show is over and we are really exhausted. We started work on the 26th of July with the preparation of the Boat Show and the Virginia wine festival. We were incredible lucky with the weather. It was hot and sunny right through to October. Even then we only had 3 days of cold and rain.

The first few days we off loaded trucks with gear for the Boat Show and it was wet and the work area was covered in mud. It was my job to re-roll the hold down straps for the driver to go back to the yard to fetch the next load of gear. Forklifts were used to unload the trucks.

The very first week I slipped getting into the dinghy on a propylene rope and hurt my right knee which still worries me today to some degree.

Our first assignment was to take stock of everything, from ticket buckets to information booths. Then there was cleaning, repairing, painting, washing tents and side curtains.

The carpentry team (Laurie and Buckie) had to build a few more huts and kiosks. When all the equipment is ready it is carefully sorted packed onto pallets which are assigned to a specific position in the show area. These are loaded in a sequence on 15 low bed trailers which at midnight (on the set up day) start rolling into town. A swarm of forklifts each equipped with a photograph of the exact spot where each pallet must be placed completed the off loading by dawn. Starting at 6 a specially recruited team then unpacked each pallet erected the tents, positioned the signs, placed fire extinguishes etc etc. 24 hours later the vendors and boats start moving in. It is run like a military operation and truly amazing to be part of.

In between we had a Wine festival in Virginia. We set this up in two days for the weekend show and then one day to repack all the crates and skids to take it all back to Maryland. We had to leave our boat at 4.30am and we only got back to the boat at 8.00pm each day.

Then it was back to Annapolis site and on with the preparation for the Boat Show. First we set up for the Sail Boat show which ran for 5 days followed by 2 days change over for the Power Boat show. 250 Sailboats are moved out of the labyrinth of floating docks by removing bridges and key sections all in two hours!! Then nearly 200 Power boats are brought back in by next morning! All the docks are temporarily erected just for the show.

Every boat is provided with power and water at its dock. This amazing feat is the responsibility of the WATER and ELECTRICAL teams [we being the LAND team] The Power Boat Show ran for 4 days and then we had 2 days to break down the whole show and clear out of the city. Everything was repacked in boxes, re-loaded on trucks and trucked about 30 miles to Owings, Maryland until next year. Finally all the parking meters, barriers, park benches and dust bins are reinstalled and the city police open it all up to the public again

It is really interesting to see how it all comes together with such relative ease because the people who have been running it for 30 years have it down to a fine art!

After the show ended Laurie had some work to do on a Saga yacht. Then we left Annapolis after 3 months and made our way to the Solomon's for our first stop going South. Next night, Dividing Creek, Virginia. Then Norfolk where we spent 2 days as Laurie needed to buy parts for the generator. Always some repairs to be done.

Norfolk is the world's finest natural deep water Harbour. The US Navy employs more people and harours more ships than any other navel station in the USA.

After Norfolk we went through the Deep Creek lock which lifted us 8 foot to go though the Dismal Swamp Canal Route. It is always pleasant to go that route as it is so peaceful with the beautiful Cypress trees in the swamps.

To exit the Dismal Swamp canal you go through the South Mill lock to lower you back down 8 foot and off to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Here we were welcomed by the Rose Buddies. They always have a cocktail party for all the boaters and really make such an effort to make boaters feel at home and all the city docks are free.

Leaving Elizabeth City you have to go across the Albemarle Sound to the Alligator River. Then once again a man made 222 mile long canal connecting the Alligator River and the Pungo River. To give you some idea of the size large commercial barges and tugs use this canal. On this trip we saw a mini Cruise ship transiting.

We stopped in Spooners Creek again which is very handy for shopping. Just a short dinghy ride and walk to Wal Mart. The largest Supermarket chain in the world. Their sales are $270 billion a year. Spooners Creek is a very up-market area with beautiful houses all around.

Next day off to Mile Hammock, a military base. We were held up for 2 hours by their military exercises. Heavy Navel guns were echoing around us, apparently shooting out to sea. We saw a lot of helicopters and military vehicles. We were lucky to see 6 amphibious vehicles drive into the anchorage and between our anchored boats. Most interesting.

We are now in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, making our way to warmer waters.

That's all for now

Laurie and Thelma

The Soutters are in the News Paper


After leaving the Visitors Centre, North Carolina we made our way North to Norfolk, Virginia. A lot of the dead trees you see in the pictures were blown down during hurricane Isabel last year. On leaving we ran into a severe storm and after 2 hours turned back to Norfolk and waited for better weather. Once again met the yacht Godspeed, with a family of five living on board a 27 foot boat. They have been sailing around for a year. From Norfolk to beautiful quiet anchorage in Dividing Creek, Virginia. Had to clean out the Dismal Swamp 'green pollen', as it blocked the generators intake causing overheating. Set sail passed the Smith Point Light house to the Solomon's. Then a 9 hour sail to Annapolis where we are once again anchored in Back Creek, Annapolis, Maryland. Along the way we saw many Osprey and their families, in nests on a lot of the channel markers. Every year from late February to early March , Osprey return to the Chesapeake Bay and the adults repair old nests and lay an average of 3 eggs. It is the female osprey's job to keep the hatchlings safe from predators. By September they are ready to fly and they head South. We are really lucky to see the families of Osprey's along the way.

Along the Dismal Northbound, July 7th Pleasant greenery on the Dismal Route The Army Corp of engineers will collect all the fallen trees Virgina - North Carolina boarder Other side of Boarder post At the Deep Creek Lock to lower us back to sea level July 2004

Temperature 35.7 degrees C July 2004 Thelmas Horse fly bites Two ships passing in the Elizabeth River  July 2004 Sunset in DIviding Creek Peaceful day in Dividing Creek July 2004 Smith Point Light HouseJuly 2004

Barge on a long tow hawser Whos on watch 2004 Long narrow canal Motor boat passing in the Chessapeake Dismal to Annapolis Anchored in the Solomon

A little too close to the island and aground at low tide for a while Time to relax and make puzzles Second puzzle

4th July 2004

From Elizabeth City through the Dismal Swamp
to Visitors Centre of NC.

The 22 miles long Dismal Swamp canal was first conceived and surveyed by George Washington as a business project. They used slave labour and began digging in 1793. It was built for flat bottom barges to move timber and cargo. It is still maintained by the US Army Corps. Last year after Hurricane Isobel they removed 640 trees that had blown down and blocked the canal. It is the oldest continuously operating canal in the US. To maintain the level there is a lock at each end to drop the boats down to the river levels.

Rose from the Rose Buddies - E.City Godspeed at Eliz City witha family of 5

Clarion in Eliz City Leaving E City for Dismal Swamp Through the Old rail bridge Reflections in Pasquotank River Few homes along the way Pasquotank River

Green Entire canal covered in the green Clarion Yet another boat for the lock Close to bushes -waiting for  lock opening

Butterfly on the deck Directions to the Lock Typical scenery along the Dismal Swamp canal South Mills lock to lift us 8 foot Lock closing Lock closing

Locked filled North side  of lock opening Routes from the lock Lock keepers office

SA June 2004 First bridge after lock Closingthe bridge Following the 3 boats from the lock Mile marker From the cockpit Visitors Centre Clarion at the Visitors Centre Clarion docked at Visitors Centre

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