Deltaville, VA to Washington, DC

Monday, May 7, 2018:

We were going to move on up the bay somewhere today, but didn’t like the weather forecast and do like staying here. For some reason, we both woke up about 0400, so I took time to catch up on the blog and later, we went to the store to get groceries and did some gift shopping at Nauti-Nell’s.  It was pretty much a lazy day.  We took some time to route plan the next legs of the trip ahead and Jane did laundry.  Just before dinner, Mark came by in his dinghy, and we went for a boat ride around the little bay.  Deltaville is a pleasant place on a peninsula with even more water front and marinas on the north side.  Jane had made a wonderful batch of veggie pasta, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling well and saved mine for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018:

I was feeling fine and refilled the water tanks. We have plotted a course for Ingram Bay Marina which is in Towles Creek.  It was named no doubt, by some of my pre-Revolutionary War era Towles ancestors.  I didn’t get to go up the Rappahannock to boat by Towles Point, so this is some consolation.  I cranked up the engine at 1030 and let it warm up a bit.  Then I shut it down and gave the oil a chance to drain back down to the pan.  I rechecked the oil and as expected, had to add some since to compensate for the effect of the new filter.  At 1045 we left the dock and moseyed over to the lift area so we could get a pump-out.  We had a lot of help on the docks with Dale from The Journey and John and Sheena from Next Act along with Jacqui from the marina.  By 1100 we were all pumped out and easing out toward the crooked channel to get us back into Chesapeake Bay.  The forecast was winds out of the northeast at 10 to 15 knots with waves of 1 to 2 feet.  Shouldn’t be a problem, right?  By 1125 we were in 3 to 4 foot seas.  It was uncomfortable for Jane to move about the boat, but after we traversed into deeper waters by noon the sun was coming out and the waves were calmer.  By 1415 the cruising was downright nice with a smooth ride on a very beautiful day.  We found our way into Towles Creek through the narrow jetties.  This is one very protected harbor!  After 24 ½ miles, we docked at 1435 in the first slip alongside the modest dockhouse of Ingram’s Bay Marina with the assistance of the owner, Billy.  Billy is a friendly guy who gave up his career after college to return to his roots and make a life on the bay.  He bought the marina and runs charters and seems to love his life.  There are some pleasant homes on the creek, but no commercial endeavors save the marina.  It is very quiet.  Queen Jane wanted a dinghy tour of the creek so I got it launched and she packed the small ice chest for refreshments.  On the chart, it looks like a tiger and we enjoyed idling around all the appendages.

When we returned to the boat, we had an early dinner and decided to turn in early so we could get an early start in the morning.  We will be trying to make it up to Washington, DC by Friday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018:

We woke up early and all the engine checks were a-ok so I cranked up at 0618 and proceeded to get things arranged for the day’s travel. At 0628 I removed the lines and backed out of the slip while Jane was below.  I think that surprised her.  Northeast winds of 5 to 10 and waves of one foot were forecast.  Once out in the bay conditions were a little rougher than expected, but by 0900 we passed green marker #3 and were in the 12 mile wide mouth of the Potomac.  It made for a calmer ride but still rolling on what seemed like 2 to 3 foot seas.  By 0945 the sun was out and it was flat and calm in the river.  At 1015 the depth sounder showed 60 feet in mid-channel under the water-ski-glassy surface.  At 1215 we arrived at the red marker #14.  Here, I radioed for instructions from the Dahlgren Range Patrol to avoid becoming a national news item by getting bombed during the Navy live fire exercises.  The Dahlgren Firing Range runs from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, for more than 20 miles downstream.  They’ve been practicing here since World War One.  The Navy positions patrol boats to make sure all vessels receive coordinates for change of course to safely navigate the area.   They were only using the middle Danger Zone and instructed me to continue to red marker 25, then turn to starboard and motor to a white diamond marker, keeping that tight to starboard, and then turn to the yellow “Oscar” buoy about another mile which I should keep to port, from which I could continue to tall fixed red “30” and then “32” to the center of the bridge.  He was rattling this off and I wished I knew shorthand, so I read it back piece by piece to make sure I knew what to do.  He was very patient and assured me that we would see their vessel and they would assist if we strayed from the designated detour route.  When I inquired as to what they were firing, he gave an appropriately ambiguous answer.  To my disappointment, we got to see no action at all.  I was hoping for some excitement; not sinking Sabbatical excitement, but maybe just some target strafing.

Later, we came around Mathias Point I noticed a fire ahead on the left. It was putting up quite a bit of black smoke which I assumed to be fuel related.  I wasn’t sure what the source was but I knew it was big because I could see flames and it was still several miles off.  Nobody was mentioning any emergency on channel 16, so it piqued our curiosity. As we got closer, using the binoculars, Jane could see people on the beach at Chotank Creek Preserve conducting a controlled burn.

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We were getting tired after a long day’s run and anchored in Acquia Creek near Widewater State Park at 1720. We had come 89.4 miles; our longest day so far.  Even though we each had a chance to nap while the other piloted, we were still wiped out after the 11 hour run.  Glad to be on anchor in such a lovely harbor, we enjoyed just sitting and talking on the flybridge for sunset before downing some leftovers and hitting the hay.

Thursday, May 10, 2018:

I checked the weather forecast and it showed a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1400 with southwest winds of 10 to 13 and gusts to 22 mph. After checking all the requisite engine points, we pulled anchor at 0845.  By 1000 we passed the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay on the right and Quantico on the left.

Some Army boat that must have a need for speed came by us.  I’ve never seen so many outboard motors on one boat.  I think there were seven 300 hp motors.

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It was beautiful cruising as we kept getting up river and passed Mount Vernon to port and Fort Washington to starboard.

The banks got steeper against the narrowing river for a while.  We could easily have made it to the Capitol Yacht Club, but our reservations were for Friday and they had no room, so I picked out an anchorage in front of National Harbor.  Charted depths for this anchorage show depths of 7 to 13 feet, but all we found there was about four feet of water.  I’m not sure why there was such a difference, but our draft is only 3 ½ feet, so we set the hook at 1320.  National Harbor is a pretty fancy development with hotels, restaurants and shops.  They even have a huge Ferris wheel out on the waterfront.  We agreed that some shopping and dining was in order, so I got the dinghy ready, changed clothes and in we went.  The folks at National Harbor are very proud of their dockage and we found out that it would be $15 for up to four hours to tie up the little dinghy.  Ouch!  On Fridays through Sundays they charge $20.  Lucky for us it’s Thursday.  We perused a few shops and asked one friendly clerk about where we could buy some casual things like Columbia sportswear.  She directed us to walk to the outlet stores. So off we went down the indicated path and through the tunnel.

Forty minutes later it finally came into view.  It was a hot and muggy day and we were ready for some air conditioning.  We found the Chico’s and Columbia store with some good deals.  Jane bought a needed rain jacket.  When we came out it had rained some and we Ubered back to the marina.  We had a superb dinner at Thai Pavilion before returning to the boat before sunset. We were treated to a fabulous rainbow.

Earlier in the day, we received some good news from our son Scott in Nashville that he is in a relationship with a young lady that we adore. So that was cause for celebrating with the Rombauer Chardonnay on the fly bridge for sunset.  I got out my guitar to serenade my sweetie and we had a great time enjoying the evening.  I checked the log and noted that we have now done 1500 miles of the Loop.

Friday, May 11, 2018:

We were up at 0730 but lollygagged around with a leisurely breakfast of salsa grits and reading the hometown paper on line. It is only 8.3 miles to the Capitol Yacht Club and we can’t check in until 1100, so there’s no real rush.  Good thing.  I hate to rush.  It was a nice day with an expected high in the low 80’s and northwest winds of 8 mph.

After checking him over, I woke Big Red from his slumber and the able diesel jumped to life. Right away, I heard something that definitely did not sound right.  I was just reaching for the kill switch when I hit me that what I was hearing was not coming from our engine room.  It was a sound that brought me quickly back to DaNang.  Coming up the river making time at low altitude were four choppers.  I’ve no way of knowing, but wondered if it might be the President.  We waved anyway.

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We hoisted the anchor at 1115. The chain and anchor were pretty gummed up with mud so I pulled out the trusty hose from the stern, hooked up the high pressure gun and squirted it all off as I reeled it in.  It left some mess on the deck, but I knew I’d be scrubbing that soon enough.  Jane navigated us out of the tricky anchorage and into the Potomac.  Once we entered the Washington Channel, Jane called the Capitol City Yacht Club on the radio for docking instructions.  I was paying close attention to what they were saying and did not see the “NO WAKE, IDLE SPEED ONLY” sign.  Sure enough I got the blue lights from the police patrol boat, but he was very kind and just pointed out my error.

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By 1230 we were lashed to the T head of B dock with thanks to the assistance of David the dockhand and fellow Loopers, Jim and Allie Cantonis of Meraki.  This is one very nice facility. The club has a long history, but this brand new clubhouse and all new docks just opened in October.  Transients here are welcomed as temporary members and are invited to use the bar and grill.  The club is located in the recently redeveloped Southwest Wharf area and there are bunches of restaurants here along with all necessary shopping.  Walking to the Mall and museums is easy and there is even a free shuttle bus that goes by the Mall and to the Metro stop.  I cleaned up the boat and myself and then we set off walking.  We spent some time in the Hirshhorn Art Museum and then strolled over to the Old Ebbitt’s Grill.  It is the oldest saloon or restaurant in town.  It was very packed, but we lucked out and got seated right away.  The food was fresh and the service very attentive.

We walked past the Washington Monument on the way back and stopped in the upstairs bar at the yacht club and found the members in the CYC bar very friendly.  This was their first day with the kitchen open and they were proud to be able to serve excellent food to the members.

Saturday, May 12, 2018:

We checked out the nearby farmer’s market in the morning and picked up a few things. Then we got the bikes out and rode over to the Georgetown Garden Tour.  We toured the gardens of seven very old homes including the former home of President and Jacqueline Kennedy where they lived before he got the nomination.  All the gardens were private and beautifully maintained.

We were exhausted by the time we got back but glad to have gotten some exercise. The ride totaled about 10 miles to Georgetown plus around all the neighborhoods and back. We showered in the clubhouse and dressed for the evening.   We were headed for a performance of the Capitol Steps at the Reagan Center and opted to eat after the show.  The Capitol Steps show is a hilarious musical show that casts barbs at our politicians and changes frequently with the abundant material Washington provides.  Once we got back to the Wharf District we tried to eat at Kith-Kim but got no service.  We left and went to Mi Vida Mexican Restaurant.  It was a great choice for dinner with a sweet attentive waitress.  It was a fun but tiring day.

Sunday, May 13, 2018:

It was cloudy and dreary and a little rainy. We made it over to Riverside Baptist Church.  They are meeting in Thomas Jefferson Junior High School auditorium.  It reminded both of us of our own elementary school, J.J. Finley.  Riverside is under construction with a new building on the corner across from the Wharf.  They were very friendly and have a completely mixed-race congregation and a wholly inclusive attitude.  Afterwards we walked to the Smithsonian complex and visited the Air and Space Museum, had lunch at the Pavilion, visited the National Archives and generally roamed around.  We noted bunches and bunches of police in full dress uniforms.  It is Police Week here and they were about to march to honor their fallen brethren.

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Jane made an awesome batch of Avocado Basil pasta for dinner and we planned what all else we wanted to see while here.

Monday, May 14, 2018:

David came by and pumped out our holding tank. Since the equipment is new, it does a really great job.  We always appreciate a good pump out.  Jane defrosted the fridge and ended up snapping the fragile plastic hinge pin again.  I think we’ll just deal with it as is.  We set out on the free shuttle for the metro station at L’Enfant Plaza and figured out what trains to take to get out to Bethesda so we could visit our friends, Linda and Larry Awbrey, their daughters, and meet the grandkids.  The youngest is only five days old.  They met us at the station and we picked up some lunch at a nice market before going over to the house.  It was a nice visit, but too short and Blake chauffeured Larry and Ashley to the airport so we rode along to catch the metro from there.  Once back at the boat, we got out the grocery cart and headed over to the Safeway (just several blocks walking) to stock up.  Once we got back to the boat again, we saw that a bad storm was rolling in so we hunkered down to ride it out.  It rained most of the night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

It was a pretty day, but warm. No, not warm.  It was hot. It was muggy.  It was very hot.  But we were riding our bikes to visit the sights.  We went to The Jefferson Memorial, The FDR Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Viet Nam War Memorial, and then we rode over the river to Arlington National Cemetery.  Jane was getting worn out and asked about doing the tram tour, but I didn’t think we wanted to be bothered with that.  Oh, boy!  Was I ever wrong!  We hiked up the hills to the Kennedy grave sites and then over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  She was getting weaker by the step.  I wondered and asked if I needed to put her in some shade and go get the EMT’s.  It was around 95 and she was feeling sick.  We did finally make it to witness a laying of the wreath ceremony and the changing of the guard at the Tomb.  It was solemn as it should be.  We made it back to the bikes at the ANC reception center and I offered to get us an Uber that could just take us and the bikes back to the marina.  The offer was turned down, but Mama’s not happy having been drug all over DC.  We finally made it back to the Wharf after a wrong turn and went to a disappointing Chinese Restaurant (Jenny’s) with sticky floors.  Midafternoon, we returned to the boat hot and totally beat.  We showered and got naps.  Another storm is coming in and when it rolls through, I’m going to treat Jane to a fine dinner and never put her through a day like this one again if I want to keep her on this boat.

Sunset over the Jefferson Memorial just before the storm.

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Belhaven, NC to Deltaville, VA

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018:

It was a rainy rainy day. Rainy, rainy, rainy.  Dreary, dreary dreary.  Lazy, lazy lazy.  We just stayed on the boat tied to the dock at Beaufort Town Docks.  We read, did devotionals, posted the latest blog, cleaned and reorganized some stuff.  Jane made some hearty veggie soup which hit the spot on this chilly damp day.  Damp day.  It got really windy too.  You know, where it hoots.  We were docked on the east side of the small westward canal which was the best spot.  There really are no tides here to speak of, but the wind brought in much higher water. In spite of the Belhaven breakwater, the unwelcome rollers were coming into our little canal and breaking over the sea wall on the other side.  Even though Belhaven is protected by the breakwater, I’m sure I could have surfed on the breakers in the basin.  That is, if I could surf.  Meanwhile, we could see another Trawler in the other canal thrashing about.  It was the Liquid Therapy.  I was glad we were where we were, but wondered if I should get out the foul weather gear and go help them.  I kept watch, but there didn’t seem to be any crisis that warranted action on my part.  In the afternoon, in between the squalls, we ventured out half a block to the local Ace Hardware for some plumbing parts to enhance the shower in the aft head.  Enhancement equals stand up, not squatting or sitting.  We found the right combulation of needed fixtures and assorted hardware.  (This is no ordinary Ace Hardware mind you, it has gifts items, a wine section, cutesy towels, a ladies clothing section, a full Carharrt section, and even antique furniture.  It is called Riddick and Windley Ace Hardware. We spent at least an hour in there.)  My plumbing installation was a success and found pleasing to the admiral.  Later, well cleansed, we indulged in some TV before bed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018:

We left the dock at 0845. We didn’t need Greg to help us, but he was there and ready if wanted.  Belhaven deserves another stay.  Perhaps a longer duration next time.  My thoughts are that this is a sleeper of a town and ripe to blossom.  Jane loosened us from the starboard stern line and moved forward to the breast and then the bow.  We were blown free into the narrow fairway.  Working patiently, I brought her around hard to starboard with a series of forward, neutral, reverse, neutral, forward, neutral, reverse, neutral, forward, etc. pivoting in place.  There were some mosquitos out, but as we got out in the Belhaven Basin, the Purple Martins flitted all about, dipping and diving, swooping them up.  When we putted out past the breakwater, into the Pungo, the rising sun shimmered off the rippled brown water casting millions of sparkling diamonds that the Martins seemed to pluck from the surface.

The forecast shows scattered showers mainly in the afternoon with south winds of 9 to 11. I know this because I have checked last night, late last night, and again this morning.  I may be slow, but I’m not averse to learning from my mistakes.  The Pongo River is wide at this point, but we found the cruising is comfortable.  At 0930:  Mile 130, Nine Lives, passed us.  They have a fast catamaran, and are flying the Looper burgee.  At 0940 we get passed by Hullabaloo, a Mainship 40 from Virginia.  By 1022 we were in the Pungo River – Alligator River canal and passed under the Wilkerson Bridge.

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Other than a few ospreys, we didn’t see any wildlife, but the huge duck blinds were neat to see.

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All was smooth and quiet until the fighter jets zoomed overhead.  We enjoyed watching them train and they kept coming by at regular intervals.

I noticed that trailing us some ways back was a shrimp boat.  The canal channel is not wide and the areas close to the banks are prone to have stumps and fallen trees, so I keep watching to see if the shrimper is going to need to pass.  He seemed to be running just slightly faster than us and finally at 1258, just after we exited the 22 miles of the canal and get into the Alligator River, the shrimp boat, Four Girls, from Bayou La Batre, Alabama comes around our starboard side.  At this point a distinctly Cajun accent comes over the VHF radio with only “Go Gators!” which gives us a grin.

Shortly the river turns north and becomes quite a bit wider. There is only a slight chop and after another three hours we arrived at the Alligator River Swing Bridge.  It only has a 14’ clearance and half the span is receiving some pretty hefty repair work. Four Girls and Some Day are waiting for the opening as the tender is waiting for us and a sailboat to catch up.  A storm is brewing to the west and as we pass through and turn west for the Alligator River Marina we hear the thunder and we’re just hoping that we don’t have to tie up with lightning and driving rain.  We make it just in time at 1545 all snug bow in at slip number 12 on the north side of their basin.  We let the storm pass before trekking over to check in.

The marina is not glamorous by any means.  It is run out of a convenience store/gas station.  There is a restaurant in the store, but it appears very basic.  The run today was 55.1 miles and it was nice to relax with Brooke and Susan from Liquid Therapy for happy hour on our boat.

Thursday, April 26, 2018:

By 0845 we exited out of the slip into glassy conditions on the Alligator River.

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By 0930 we had passed the green marker number 3 and were in the Albemarle Sound.  It is too vast to see the entrance to the Pasquotank River 14 miles away, but the water is only a slight ripple.  Our only concern is dodging the numerous crab pots.  By 1130 we enter the Pasquotank with a slight chop and at 1230 we passed the Coast Guard Air Station in glassy smooth water.  A number of planes of different types are practicing touch and goes for our entertainment.

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At 1310 we docked at Mariner’s Wharf in Elizabeth City.  There is no shore power, water, or pump out available and no dock hands, but it’s free.  Docking was tricky, but without much wind and Jane’s cowgirl abilities, wrangling the piles for stern and spring lines, we set the bow just off the sea wall adjacent to the tiny finger pier.

 

We had to climb on and off to visit the quaint town.  We had lunch at Flour Girls and walked about a bit.  We came across a genealogy library so I had to go in since so many of my ancestors lived in this area.  I only had about 30 minutes before they were closing, but I was able to get a sense of what resources they had and kept their contact info for later.  When we got back to the boat the wind had picked up but our lines were set well.  Two other boats were trying to come in and I was glad to be there to help Dale and Myrna get The Journey tied up and then help the sailor aboard Xtasea with his bow lines.  Jane and I ate well that night at The Cypress Creek Grill and spent some time talking with the owner who is retired from the Coast Guard and his son is the chef.

Friday, April 27, 2018:

Up early to meet the Elizabeth City bridge opening schedule at 0730. The Journey and Xtasea were with us.

The cruise winding up the Pasquotank was beautiful.  The glassy water at times dotted only by a few raindrops.  It is very untouched and reminds me of the Suwannee and the Santa Fe as we moved upstream.  By 0915 we were into Turners Cut which takes us to the south lock of the Great Dismal Swamp Canal.

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We arrived an hour early and had to tread water waiting for the 1100 lock-through.

By 1140 we were through the South Mills Lock and into the Great Dismal Swamp Canal which joins the Pasquotank to the Elizabeth River.  The swamp is home to a large population of black bears, but we didn’t see any; just some snakes, geese and turtles.

 

It also has a very interesting history, with beginnings in the 1700’s.  George Washington was an early investor.  At 1222 the pontoon bridge opened so we could pass, but we opted not to stop at the welcome center deciding to head on to Norfolk.

At 1248 we passed into Virginia.  We arrived at the Deep Creek Bridge 40 minutes before the 1530 opening.  Once we got through though the small bascule bridge we were then going right on into the exit lock where we met lockmaster Robert Peek.  Robert has been on the job for many years and he loves to regale the boaters in his lock with his abundant knowledge of the history of the area.  He also continued to entertain us with a tune on his conch shell.  He also brought me to the exit gate to give instructions for avoiding the shoals in the creek.

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We finally escaped the lock at 1620 heading into Deep Creek for Norfolk.  Boating into Norfolk with all the large ships and industry was somewhat intimidating.  We had some confusion with the Norfolk and Southern Railroad Bridge, but it was remotely opened for us.

As we were approaching our destination at the Waterside Marina, there was a cruise ship approaching from the other direction.  I felt sure I had plenty of space and time to proceed without issue, but a Coast Guard patrol boat (complete with a gunner manning the 50 caliber machine gun on the bow) came up with lights flashing and got right next to us.  Once they found out where we were going, it was ok for us to proceed.  I guess they just wanted to make sure we weren’t terrorists about to attack the cruise boat.

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We have become accustom to asking each marina for an easy slip to get into since we are running a single screw boat with no thrusters.  At Waterside though, I guess they thought they would test my docking skills.  It was three turns with the last in a narrow fairway, but I eased the bow into our assigned slip like a pro and Ethan helped us get tied up.  There were already a number of Loopers in the marina, but it was far from full.  He could have given us any one of much easier slips, but I didn’t bring it up.  We joined Alan and Sherry aboard Sea Jamm for docktails along with Roger and Lorrie from Reality. Afterward, we walked up to Hell’s Kitchen for a great dinner.  An amazing thing happened there.  Neither one of us had our wallets so, no credit cards and no cash.  Most restaurants expect you to pay for what you eat and this one was no different.  Amazingly, Jane has our Visa memorized and they actually trusted us and ran it through.  I guess two grandparents that order vegan food and are the only ones in the entire restaurant without tattoos looked pretty safe.  We were grateful, rather I was grateful since I would have been the one to run back to the boat for the credit card.

Saturday, April 28 through Thursday, May 3, 2018:

We enjoyed being in Norfolk for the American Great Loop Cruiser’s Association Spring Rendezvous. We were treated to a grand NATO parade, went to many restaurants with friends, had many sessions on cruising the Loop that were full of great information, went to The Wave church, helped other Looper friends get docked in the wind, hosted many Loopers-in-planning on our boat, and enjoyed a visit to the MacArthur Memorial.  I also had an old Viet Nam buddy, Bob Morrison, come over to the boat to visit.  Bob not only stayed in the Navy and made a career of it, but he also transitioned to officer.  We had a good time reliving the war.

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All in all, Norfolk was fun, the marina was standing room only and the conference was hugely informative, but it’s time to move on.  I was not impressed with Waterside Marina.  They had no laundry, the restrooms were too far away and their pump out system was not fully operable.  Jane the laundry queen was not to be denied and was able to get privileges at the Sheraton next door to use their tiny laundry area for a few loads.

Friday, May 4, 2018:

I got up early and in maintenance checks discovered that we had sucked up a bunch of weeds into the main engine strainer from the Dismal Swamp lock. I got that cleaned out and once the larger boat to our stern was out of the way, made our plan to get off the dock.  I had Lee from Breeze get on his deck in case he needed to fend me off.  It was tight quarters and I didn’t want to bump any other boats.  I eased out of the slip just fine, but once turned in the small fairway the wind was quickly pushing towards Antonia.  Mark came out on deck and was concerned, but I was able to keep Sabbatical away using reverse and enough throttle to overcome the wind’s effect.  I brought her around to starboard and then realized that Eddy had moved Spiritus onto the T head to allow Miss Liberty to escape.  He was yelling for me to hold up.  But now I had the wind on my beam and uncomfortably close to Antonia.   I was able to maneuver back to where I was clear of the others.  There were so many boats moving it was like one of those little puzzles where you have to move the tiles around to get them in the right order.  I saw Linda on the stern of Spiritus waving her arms like directing an orchestra.  We all cooperated and I remained at idle in the main fairway keeping away from the others until it was my turn to get out of the basin.  I got complements and cheers on my boat handling ability.  Norfolk is home to the world’s largest Navy base and once out in the Elizabeth River we had lots and lots of big Navy and cargo ships to see.

It was a sunny day with 10 knot winds out of the southwest. By 0955 we were in the Chesapeake Bay.  We were moving north up the west shore of the bay and it started getting a little rough with seas of 2 to 3 feet.  I had Jane wear her PFD while moving about.  We were attacked by an invasion of flies.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  We are well off from the land and here come these pesky biting flies – hundreds and hundreds of them.  Jane got out one of the flyswatters and went about trying to wipe out the species.  She hardly made a dent and they kept on coming.

After we got through the rough area we had turned to the west moving into the Piankatank River when I spotted a Coast Guard patrol boat headed south. The patrol boat changed course and started in our direction.  They were quickly upon us with the blue lights flashing so I put it in neutral and stepped to the back of the fly bridge to ask what I had done wrong.  Were we over the limit on fly kills?  They asked when was the last time we had been boarded by the Coast Guard to which we said never, so they said prepare to be boarded.  At 1408 two of their crew stepped onto the Sabbatical.  We were in full compliance so it was no more than a delay of 20 minutes or so.  They were very respectful and after the preliminaries, asked me to continue toward my destination.  Once they were done with the paperwork, I held my course and speed and the patrol boat came along side and they just stepped over while we were underway.

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At 1500 we eased into a slip at the Deltaville Boatyard with brand new floating docks.  This place has a pool and the restrooms are newly remodeled.  After happy hour on the deck hosted by Curtis Stokes & Associates, we walked to Taylor’s Restaurant with the Snyders.  The food was mediocre, but the company was great.

Saturday, May 5, 2018:

We had been enticed to come here for the weekend for a seminar series jointly hosted by Curtis Stokes and Deltaville Boatyard, but I’m glad we now know about this spot. After the rendezvous in Norfolk, we were tired of sitting in classes, but you can’t get too much education.  We learned a lot about cruising on the Chesapeake Bay.  The boatyard owner, Keith Ruse was also giving complimentary engine room inspections.  I’m very glad I got this, because he found that one of my alternators was loose and out of alignment.  A nut had wriggled its way off of the bolt and even though it was still working, it was a matter of time before this became an issue that could have put us in a bad way on the water.  Their mechanics were too busy to make the repair, but I figured it was within my talents.  Being Cinco de Mayo, they had a Mexican Dinner catered into the marina for us along with live entertainment.  We watched the Kentucky Derby in the lounge and we should have bet, because the horse I picked won.

Sunday, May 6, 2018:

In the morning, Keith conducted a couple of classes on troubleshooting HVAC and diesel engines in the shop. He had a very informative presentation enhanced by fully operational units with which to demonstrate.

In the afternoon, I went to work removing the out-of-line alternator and I quickly discovered that one shouldn’t touch the wrench to the block while removing the hot lead. It made quite a spark and I dropped the wrench in the bilge.  After retrieving the wrench, I removed the hot leads from the battery and turned off the charger before proceeding. The front bolt was fully seized with its nut.  During the process of trying to loosen it, the bolt broke, so now I need some hardware.  Keith said the NAPA store was closed but West Marine would be open.  Jane had arranged for use of the car for grocery shopping, so I had her take the old hardware to match and a list of what I wanted.  I worked on cleaning up the alternator from the caked-on belt dust.  It was pretty black.  She couldn’t get any assistance in the West Marine store, but finally was able to locate everything but the washers.  However, it used up all the time she was allowed for the car so the groceries had to wait.  She was none too happy about her experience at West Marine.   The good news is that I got it put back together cranked it up and checked the operation and it is working fine.  Since I was already a dirty stinky mess and had all the floor panels out, I went ahead and changed the oil too.  I put the floor all back in place and got the maintenance log out to make the entries about the work I had done.  That’s when it hit me.  I had forgotten to change the oil filter.  I knew it would be full of the old oil and now that the new oil is in the engine, I didn’t want to put a hole in the filter and have it drain into the crankcase.  I thought a minute about just leaving it and letting the old oil in the filter mix with the fresh oil I had just put in.  I knew getting it off would result in a mess, but I was just going to go ahead and try.  I put a bunch of old newspaper around the filter and twisted it off.  Surprisingly, not much came out until I started to turn it upside down, but the newspaper did its job and I got the new filter installed and cleaned up the little that did spill.  I won’t forget that step again.  Afterward, the shower was put to good use and I relaxed while Jane fixed dinner for the two of us.

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Carolina Beach to Belhaven

We’ve seen some weird stuff along the ICW.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018:

We hung around in the morning and stayed on the Carolina Beach mooring ball until noon. The sky was cloudless and super-blue.  The water was flat but the temperature was only 40 so we were in no hurry to get underway.  Another Looper, Dream Fever, arrived to pick up the mooring ball next to ours, but we were already in the mode to pull out so I didn’t try to contact them.  They have the gold burgee signifying that they’ve already completed their loop.  Maybe we’ll get to meet them in Norfolk.

By 1325 we were approaching the Wrightsville Beach Bridge. This bridge will only open on schedule and the tide board on the fender only showed 19 feet of clearance.  Our mast reaches to 19’ 9”.  I radioed the bridge tender to see if he might open for us, but he has to stick to his schedule.  He did mention that he’s got 19 feet of clearance at the low steel on the closest to the fenders and an additional 3 feet in the center.  I held her close to the center and slipped under with room to spare, but from Jane’s perspective watching from below it was nerve wracking.

I really appreciated the tender’s info and he also said the next bridge was four feet higher, so I’d have no problem there either and by 1412 we were under the Figure Eight Swing Bridge and heading for Nixon Channel.  We had picked out several spots we might anchor for the night and thought we’d make it up by Camp LeJeune, but we couldn’t get to the 12 foot Surf City Swing Bridge in time for the 1600 opening.  Waiting until 1700 would have put us getting to the anchorage too late, so we backtracked about 3 miles to anchor in a very nice spot at Sloop Point.  There is a channel here that runs from the waterway out to an inlet.  Once I got us set, Jane pointed out that we are in the channel, but I assured her that we would see absolutely no boat traffic anchored here.  Within 5 minutes some locals come whizzing by about ten feet off our stern.  Well, the Captain can be wrong after all.  Other than a sailboat that came in later to anchor much further up, that was it and we were snug for the night.  It was our son Scott’s birthday, so we gave him a call while he was getting ready for a surprise night out in Nashville.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018:

We woke up early and decided right away to pull the hook quickly and try to make the 0700 bridge opening of the Surf City Bridge. I always perform my engine checks and wouldn’t skip it this time either, but buzzed through the checklist and by 0628 we had pulled anchor and were motoring out.  We reached the bridge just in time and went right through.

By 0840 we were crossing Chadwick Bay.  We must have been running just the right pace because we arrived at the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge timed for his 0930 opening and didn’t even break stride.

After we passed the warning sign for the Camp LeJeune live fire training, we began to hear the booms from their big guns.  We continued to hear it well up into Bogue Sound.  At times we were running against the current and others it was helping us.  At 1030 we were hitting 9.7 mph at 1800 rpms.  That’s a nice boost from the moving water.   Over the radio we heard a boat getting yelled at by the slower vessels getting overwhelmed by his wake.  This was providing a good bit of marine radio entertainment.  At one point I heard a captain transmit, “ASSHOLE!!”.  When the fast moving boat, Conniption VII came up behind us though, he slowed down somewhat; I guess having gotten tired of being cussed at.

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By 1110 we passed across Bogue Inlet.  There were some ships getting loaded at the Morehead Terminal, but little commercial traffic to contend with.

By 1420 we were tied at the Beaufort Yacht Basin with help from Bobby.  Bobby was a wonderful host and they have a very nice facility including free laundry.  We had heard Spiritus calling Homer Smith Marina on the radio so we knew that Eddy and Linda Johnsen were next door. We called them and talked about maybe meeting for dinner.  Beaufort is full of history and there are lots and lots of houses with historical signs noting the original owners and year of construction.  Many are well before the Revolutionary War.  After a walk through the historical section we met Eddy and Linda at Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant.  The food was adequate and we greatly enjoyed our time with Eddy and Linda again.

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They are a wealth of information about boating and the Great Loop.  Later on the boat we did some route planning laying out optional spots to stop over the next week.

Thursday, April 19, 2018:

We got up early and knew it was a day for some exercise. One of the eyes from our burgee staff had broken off and I needed a replacement, so we ran over to the Ace Hardware store over a mile away to make the purchase and that proved to be just far enough for us to qualify as exercise and walked back on a different route.  We had to traipse across a low spot and climb the embankment to cross a new bridge under construction.

Jane was doing some laundry (free machines, must use) and Bobby said he was cooking lunch and invited us to join him so we did.  He likes to cook for a group and there was plenty.  Eddy and Linda reached out and said they would be taking Homer Smith’s courtesy car over to the Piggly Wiggly for a grocery run and would we like to go, so we did.  Eddy and I dropped the ladies back off with all their new groceries at the marinas and then we went over to Morehead City to the NAPA auto parts store so I could buy the T-1 oil for my next oil change.  We also got invited to join the Johnsens aboard Spiritus for dinner.  Homer Smith’s is a shrimp packer and they had received a gift of fresh trigger fish from the folks there.  We brought wine and some guacamole that Jane whipped up. Spiritus is a gorgeous 36 foot Grand Banks that is treated with immaculate care.  The dinner was awesome and we really are enjoying getting to know Eddy and Linda better.

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Friday, April 20, 2018:

Spiritus left early and we took our sweet time getting ready and pulled away from the dock at 0910 without assistance in between the tides and with a north wind of 15 to 20 knots. There was just enough water for us to cheat across the bar in the tiny basin which made our retreat much easier.  At 0935 we were in Russell Slough and it was nice cruising on a cloudless but cool day.  At 1008 we passed under the Core Creek Bridge and only making 7 mph against the tide.  By noon we were in the Neuse River and it was somewhat choppy.  The Neuse is about 5 miles wide and opens onto the side of Pamlico Sound.  At 1300 we passed Red Marker #4 and Jane noted in the log that we were in a 3 to 4 foot chop.  We made our way on northwestward and entered Bay River at 1415 with a speed of over 8 mph under protection from the north wind.  By 1433 Sabbatical was resting at anchor in Bear Creek in five feet of water on 50 feet of anchor rode.

We decided that we’d go on to Washington tomorrow.  That’s “Little” Washington as in North Carolina, not D.C.  We napped and then Jane did some curry magic with leftovers and tofu that was simply incredible.  It was a beautiful anchorage and we continue to be amazed at the beauty and our blessings.

Saturday, April 21, 2018:

It was foggy early so we remained on anchor until 0915. By 0940 we were back in the ICW.  We stopped at R. E. Mayo Co. in Hobucken to refuel.  They cater to shrimpers and commercial vessels so we’re comfortable that the fuel is fresh and know that the price is right.  The rickety dock is a challenge and while friendly, they’re not in a hurry to refuel a common pleasure craft.  We had to move from the original spot they sent us to and then wait while the fishing trawler Tamara Alane finished unloading their catch of flounder caught off of New York.

We took on 212 gallons at $2.88 per gallon including tax.  The re-fueling stop took most of an hour, but we’re in no great hurry anyhow.  Once back in Pamlico Sound we turned off the waterway going northwest to Washington.  We now put the Reds on the right and the markers were too far apart to see.  There was a light wind at our stern and the water was calm but with the width of the Sound it seemed at times like we weren’t even moving.  We finally floated through the railroad bridge and after 43 and a half miles had the lovely town of Washington on our starboard side.  We were greeted by a tent city of 2000 bicyclists in town for the weekend cycling events.

Jimmy and Ed came out to help us get docked on the T head at the public docks at 1650.  The docks here are fixed, not floating, but there is no tide up here.  We showered in the marina facility and then walked over to our friend Cathy Bell’s restaurant, Backwater Jack’s.  Mary at the hostess stand figured out who we were (Gator hat was a dead giveaway) and Laura came out too.  We were greeted as if we’d just returned from sea and had a fine time dining with Cathy’s mom Marty while Cathy and Laura worked the sizeable crowd.  It’s a fun spot and at one point, Laura was making the rounds with free shots of Captain Morgan.

The food was great and I stuffed a gut until I could eat no more.  They had a great band out on the patio.  Cathy was able to join us on the deck and we had a great time drinking wine, hanging out listening to the band and getting entertained by kilt man and the other cyclists celebrating.

They are a fun bunch.  Finally around 10:00 pm, tired and ready to turn in, we caught the free shuttle back to the marina.

Sunday, April 22, 2018:

We walked over to worship with Harbor Church in the historic Turnage Theater located just off the waterfront. They have a good preacher that is passionate and long-winded.  I thought we were going to miss lunch, but we stepped next door after the service and munched on fried veggies at Grub Brothers.  Later Cathy, Laura, and Marty came by for docktails aboard and they brought us a load of Backwater Jack’s swag including T shirts and wine glasses.  We had a great visit and lots of laughs and they were gone too soon.

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The admiral decided that we should walk to El Charrito for a Mexican dinner.   The food was good and once again I ate too much.  Why don’t they just serve Tums on the side?

Monday, April 23, 2018:

We got up early and I did engine room checks while Jane took advantage of the laundry room since it was spectacular and the sheets and comforter could use a good washing. At 0900 I slipped over to the George and Laura Brown Library to see what resources they might have to assist with my genealogy research.  They have an ample history resource room and a dedicated staff person for history and genealogy research.  She was off, but I got her contact info and will reach back out for assistance.  Some of the earliest settlers in this area are my ancestors and not everything is available on line.  I’d like to have more time here for discovery, but alas it is time to move on.  We got off the dock at 1005 with Tom’s help and he noticed that the RR bridge was closed.  He called the tender on the radio who said he is expecting a train, but didn’t know what time, so he reopened for us to slip through and out into the sound.

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Yesterday’s forecast showed east winds of 10 to 15 knots with a moderate chop.  I should know by now to recheck the morning of castoff and even still be wary that they underestimate winds.  Once we got out in the sound we were taking it on the bow with the winds out of the east.  I went down and removed the burgee so it wouldn’t blow away.  As we went further it got worse, but we were committed by this point and I knew it was just going to be rough and uncomfortable.  Soon, we were riding a bucking bronco rising up and smashing down into four to six foot waves.  When the bow would go down hard on a big wave the splash would go as high as our fly bridge.  It’s over 31 miles from the RR bridge to Wade’s Point where we can turn in away from the wind and head up the Pongo River to Belhaven.  I later admitted to Jane that there were several waves that very much concerned me in terms of safety.  I did not want to see one break over the bow.  It was a long and brutal day and Jane said she was scared at times and does not want to have another day like that.  Nothing got broken, nobody got hurt and there were no tears, but I know I will exercise greater caution in the future.  Finally, at 1420 we entered the Pungo River and relaxed a bit in the calmer waters, but still getting pushed around some with the wind and waves quartering from behind.  We passed a couple of tugs pushing barges in the opposite direction.  By 1550 we docked at Belhaven Town Docks with help from Harbormaster Greg and a couple of other boaters.  Belhaven is known as the birthplace of the Intracoastal Waterway.  It appears to be a sleepy little place, but cozy, and we opt to stay for a couple of nights with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast.  Greg made reservations for us at Spoon River Restaurant and what a surprise it was.  It is billed as true farm to fork and the menu changes monthly.  The place is fancily decorated, serves on white linens and puts out incredibly delicious food.  They don’t have a wine list, they have a wine room.

I picked out Folie a Deux Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.  Today was going to be our day of abstinence but the brutal day on the water gave us reason to choose a different day for that.  All the transient boaters in town seemed to be dining here as well.  As we finished, Regina and Jim came over to our table because they heard us talking to another boater and that we are from Gainesville.  Turns out they are the Loopers aboard Blue Ayes that had been towed into Beaufort a few days before.  They remembered that we had come by to see if they needed any help.  They are from Atlanta and are Tennessee fans.  We asked them to sit and chat and directly the owner of the restaurant came by our table with a goodwill bottle of cabernet.  I am getting used to this North Carolina hospitality.

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Charleston to Carolina Beach

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018:

Finally some sunshine! But it’s still cold; only 44 this morning.  I finished the last blog and got it posted.  I’m not a writer and it’s a tough chore because I’m so slow, but determined to keep documenting this delightful journey.  Jane took care of completing the switch of the MMSI registration number from the former owners.  I guess that will help the searchers know who they are looking for in the event of emergency.  We decided that we’d be leaving Charleston in the morning and Jane got our reservations switched from Myrtle Beach Yacht Club to the Marina at Grand Dunes on the advice of friends.  It will help keep the Uber costs down being more centrally located there.  The ship’s bursar has noted that we spent $137 on Uber in the month of March.  We used the marina’s courtesy car to go up to the Harris Teeter grocery (adequate, but not Publix) and got lunch at a Mexican restaurant, Zia Tacqueria (filling, but not remarkable).  After we returned, Jane did another load of laundry and we waited for our friends, Jerry and Susie Pick whose boat the Happy Ours has been here at SJYH awaiting their return from home in Tennessee.  They had to go home to do taxes like the good citizens they are. We said screw it, filed an extension, and sent Uncle Sam a lot of money. We hope enough but we’ll know the answer in October.  Once they arrived at docktails hour we chatted a bit before heading out in their rental car to Wild Olive (yes, Wild Olive again – it’s that good).  It was great to see them again.  We had not visited with them since we started the Loop.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018:

We got up early and made the decision to leave on the high tide instead of waiting until 1300 for the slack low. We scrambled around a bit skipping breakfast and extracted from the slip at 0816 without help as the tide had not yet begun to move.  We needed a pump out of the holding tank so I eased her over to the fuel dock that doubles as the pump out station.  I tried radioing, but Jessica and Stan saw me coming and rushed down to help secure us.  By the time we were pumped out and ready to go at 0830, I was surprised by the amount of current that had picked up in just that short time.  As we were facing down current, I couldn’t get the bow to swing around fast enough to keep from hitting the lift docks, so I kept backing up to return along the fuel dock.  Jessica was awesome and kept helping get us back far enough so I had the room to turn.  The third time was the charm and I was able to goose it hard to port to get away from the dock and not have to file an accident report.  Once clear of the marina we headed north up the Stono River to rejoin the ICW at Elliot Cut.   After we entered the Ashley River on the east side of Charleston proper, we could see that we would encounter some interesting traffic in the area of Fort Sumter.

It was a pretty day and by 1000 we entered Breach Inlet. There are some nice homes here.

We intended to go and dock with Leland Oil Company in McClellanville and by 1400 we passed Jeremy Creek and changed plans cancelling our reservation with Leland and continuing towards Georgetown. We realized that we wouldn’t make it to Georgetown before the marina closed so we researched and found what looked like a good anchorage just off the waterway in Minim Creek.  It sounded like an ideal spot without houses and surrounded by nature.  We crossed the South Santee River at 1510.  When we arrived at our targeted anchorage we discovered that another vessel flying the AGLCA burgee, Babe, was also anchored there.  I felt bad that we had to encroach on their private spot, but there was plenty of room and we set the hook at 1552 in 13 feet with an ample 120 foot rode well off their bow.  Once we had everything set, I tried to contact Babe on the VHF.  I just wanted to get acquainted and somewhat apologize for disturbing their peaceful spot.  Apparently, their radio was off for the night.  I wanted to give them something, but not to the point of launching the dinghy and take ‘em a bottle of wine, so that’s when I hatched the idea to give them some entertainment.  I went online to the AGLCA website and looked them up in the member roster and got the cell phone number.  I called the number and got no answer, but left a voice message that went something like this:  “This is Sargent Leslie O. Bobo of the South Carolina Department of Wildlife.  I’m trying to reach the captain of the motor vessel Babe. Our radar and monitoring system have determined that your vessel is anchored in a restricted area protected for the mating habitat of the rare Minim Creek Squid.  We require you to remove your vessel and appreciate your assistance in the protection of the very rare Minim Creek Squid species.  I will call back shortly to make sure you have received this message.”  I waited several minutes observing to make sure they weren’t pulling anchor and then called back.

I had to leave another message, this time instructing them to call me. Shortly, Mrs. Wheeler called and wanted to know what to do.  I quickly let them know that it was a spoof and we all had a great laugh.  Apparently, Mr. Wheeler is also a practical joker so I’m sure there will be some payback later.  They sound like a fun couple and we are looking forward to meeting them in person at the AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk.

Friday, April 13, 2018:

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It was sunny and the high predicted at just above 70. There is a slight SW wind of 6 to 13 mph.  The run to Georgetown should only be about two hours.  We pulled up the anchor along with lots of tiny creatures (possibly the rare Minim Creek Squid?).   So I left the rode and chain out on the deck to wash off later when we dock.  By 0945 we passed the floating pontoon swing bridge.  You don’t see these too much anymore.

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It got warm and we both changed to shorts. No sense arriving at dock in the tighty whities.   We docked at Harbor Walk Marina in Georgetown at 1105.  We were arriving midway of the falling tide which made me a little nervous especially when I saw the tight spot they had for us, but we snuggled right up to the dock gently and safe.  I cleaned the boat and called Tommy Howard.  Tommy is a distant relative that I’ve never met but had talked to him a few months ago after doing some genealogy research.  Our mutual antecedent is James Bush Howard, my great grandfather and Tommy’s great-great grandfather.  Tommy used to be the editor of the newspaper here and wants to write a story on our navigation of America’s Great Loop.  Tommy arrived and we walked to a long time local breakfast and lunch spot that looked like it probably did in the ‘40’s.  They offered home cooking and we stuffed a gut on large veggie platters.  Then Tommy gave us a personal walking tour of the town.

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It is darling cute and loaded with history.  We saw places where George Washington visited and went to the South Carolina Maritime Museum.  There were throngs of locals at the Kaminski House getting their prom photos with the beautiful house and gardens for backdrop.

We returned to the boat and later Tommy arrived to pick us up to go to a BBQ place over near Debordieu. There we were to meet the rest of the Howard bunch and there was quite a crowd.  There must have been 20 altogether.  They are all wonderful folks and a loving and huggy bunch.  We swapped stories about ancestors and enjoyed getting to know each other.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018:

We are on the move again, slipping out of the marina with several others on the 0902 high tide. Pete from Safe Haven gave us an assist getting off the dock.  It is a beautiful day, but rain and cold is expected tomorrow.  There is flat water but wind gusts to 22 mph are forecast for later.  Being a Saturday, there is noticeably increased traffic in the river.  At 1315 we had the Socastee Swing Bridge open and followed this little tug through.

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At 1420 just south of the Robert Grissom Parkway Bridge, a cruiser came up behind and asked to come by on our port side. I obliged and moved over to the right of the narrow waterway in six feet of water.  No good deed goes unpunished and my six feet quickly became nil and we were aground.  Thank goodness the bottom was mud or sand and we were only at idle speed.  I was able to back off and we were underway again in just a few minutes, resolving to stay in the middle of the channel.  In another 25 minutes we were safely docked on a T-head at the Marina at Grand Dunes.   We seem to have friends to see everywhere we go and in Myrtle Beach we are seeing one of my Howey Academy schoolmates, Lyn Sue Kennedy Tayloe.  Lyn Sue came right over and took us to the mall so Jane could get some make-up (heaven forbid she would run out!) and then toured us around Myrtle Beach.  We got to see all the touristy honky-tonk area and then drove by some beautiful beachfront homes including hers.  Then we went to Publix (YEA!) and stocked up on groceries (and wine).  She dropped us off at the marina and pledged to return with her husband to take us to one of their favorite local restaurants.  Lyn Sue and Artie arrived back at the boat bearing a really nice chardonnay and a tin of cheese straws.  We enjoyed a glass of wine and got into the cheese straws before we departed to The Flamingo Grill.  The restaurant did not disappoint and we met both of the owners (2 Greek guys both named Dino) who are reportedly on hand at all times.

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They have a large establishment (220 seats) and a great business going.  They obviously take care of every detail.  Sue and Artie wouldn’t let us pay for anything because that’s just how they are.  I hereby appoint them Myrtle Beach’s Ambassadors to the World!

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Sunday, April 15, 2018:

We needed some exercise so we rode bikes around the Grand Dunes resort and development for an hour and a half. We came up on a black racer on the bridge.  He was quick to move on off.

Later, Jane did some laundry (didn’t really have many dirty clothes but it was a free washer and dryer and she couldn’t pass it up) and I attended to some marine maintenance and together we planned out the route for the next week.  After a needed nap, we visited the Anchor Cafe for salads.  A storm was coming in and we got back to the boat before it hit.  We just got the tail end of it, but there was plenty of rain, wind and lightning.

Monday, April 16, 2018:

The forecast is for sunny skies with a high in the low sixties and wind out of the SW at 11 to 16 mph along with gusts to 23. I have chosen an anchorage at Pipeline Canal that looks good.  It is 46 miles which by my estimate would be a run of about 6 ½ hours.  Unassisted, we untie and let the wind help us get off the dock and then spin around in the fairway to exit the marina at 0937.  At 1111 the Little River Swing Bridge opens for us and sometime around noon we realize that we are in North Carolina.  We’ve got the waterway mostly to ourselves today and we’re enjoying the boating.  By 1315 we have crossed Shallotte Inlet.  We find ourselves in that water where the current is running against us and the wind at our back that creates a washboard effect on the surface.  At 1420 we’re in Lockwood’s Folly and it is slap low tide.  The wind has shifted, the waves are high and we bumped the bottom two or three times coming across in the rough water.  At one point, I thought we were stuck because we stopped and I took it out of gear, but the wave action was quick to help and we moved on again.  I was very thankful that the keel extends lower than the propeller and we’ve only just removed some moss growth or a little bottom paint on the sand.  We got beyond the inlet and decided to forego the anchorage at Pipeline Canal continuing on past Southport and into the Cape Fear River at 1600.  Cape Fear River seems to be aptly named as it was rougher than a cobb.  Here again with the current going out and the wind coming in.  We checked and found out we were operating in small craft warnings.  No wonder steerage was difficult.  We saw the ferries passing and got by the Archer Daniels Midland plant.   There was a restricted area by the Army base to steer clear of and a couple of tugs moving a dredge operation.

By the time we got to Snow’s Cut all was calm and we arrived at the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina to pick up a mooring ball. Jane registered us and paid on line for the $20 fee.  It had been a very long day filled with excitement and we were both worn out having gone 64 miles; our longest day yet.  We turned in after showers and a boatcooked meal.

Beaufort to Charleston

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018:

I spent the morning writing while Jane organized and got some exercise. We finally left the boat at the mooring ball and rode (rode not rowed) the dinghy in to further investigate Beaufort.

First up was a rather lengthy walk to have lunch at Herban Market. It was simple and simply incredible.  Jane had a taco salad and I chose the BLT wrap.  Both selections were whole-food, plant based and were fully appreciated.  That necessitated some more walking around the pleasant town of Beaufort during which we did a little shopping followed by the 4:00 pm carriage tour.  Our tour guide/carriage driver was a Beaufort native and seemed to have a complete knowledge of the history.  Beaufort is so charming because Sherman did not burn it.  All the local population fled before it fell to the Yankees and so the town was used for most of the Civil War as a Union installation.  Once in the historical section, one of the first antebellum homes we stopped at was the Stoney House.  I wondered and imagined that it could have been built by an ancestor of my friend Laurence Stoney from Charleston.  I’m hoping to see Laurence when we get there.  Our guide related a most interesting story about a slave named Robert Smalls who, during the Civil War, stole a Confederate gunship, sailed his family to freedom turning over the ship and information to the Union, and later became a member of the House of Representatives.  Most interestingly, he was able to return to Beaufort after the war and buy the house of his former master for the unpaid taxes.  When the former lady of the house returned and thought she still owned the home, he took her in and never told her any different, caring for her as long as she lived.

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After, at the Old Bull Tavern we enjoyed libations and black-eyed pea hummus with grilled pita bread.

We had a bouncy ride back in the dinghy since the wind had picked up, but I set the throttle at lickity-split and we only touched the tops of the white caps.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018:

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Beautiful sunrise over Beaufort this morning.

By 0855 we were underway in the ICW. The weather forecast shows SW winds of 10 to 15 knots with gusts to 20 and a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  I got some pictures of the historical homes along the river.

Within an hour we had entered the Coosaw River and by 1030 made it to St. Helena Sound. It was a warm day and when the captain gets hot – layers are shed.

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As we entered Tom Point Creek at 1345 to anchor, the wind had picked up and it was getting cloudy, but we had Pandora-provided Beatles on the stereo, so we were undaunted.

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We located the best spot to anchor with some wind protection provided by the trees. The creek is a little narrow here and it makes me nervous.  Even though the tide change creates current, we anchored in 13 feet of water with just over 5 feet of help from the tide.  I have become so confident in our Manson Supreme anchor that I only put out 62 feet of rode.  Normal anchoring guidelines recommend the depth plus the height to the bow sprit (in our case 6 feet) to be multiplied by 7.  So it would be 13+6=19; 19 x 7 = 133 feet of anchor rode.  I’ve got out less than half of that due to my concerns about the narrow creek.

There were only a couple of houses, but they were well up the creek so it is very private here.  Apparently, some well-heeled creek dwellers live here. There was no boat traffic on the creek with the exception of one crabber that came in right behind us checking his traps and continued on up the creek.  I wondered how far up the creek his traps run, because we anchored at 1400 and it was happy hour before he came back by.  I love these anchorages with the expansive surrounding marsh.  They are so private and quiet.

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As I was readying the shower on the fantail, a small dolphin announced his arrival with whooshes from his blow hole feeding, no doubt on the falling tide. I’ve heard about the technique they use around here called strand feeding, but I have yet to witness it.  We ran the generator for hot water and I showered on the stern (no pics of that.  You’re welcome) while Jane bathed inside due to the no-see-ums.  The carnivorous little bastards love her.

Thursday, April 5, 2018:

Low tide was around 0720 so we pulled up anchor at 1010 (from the same spot we dropped it), and pleasantly, it emerged clean. The morning was clear and cool with light winds out of the east.  We enjoyed a short cruise for the 25.6 miles and arriving with the tide, gently docked at St. Johns Yacht Harbor in the Stono River just south of Charleston at 1317.  SJYH proved to be a great choice in terms of restroom and laundry facilities, but can be a difficult spot to obtain an Uber.  We ran into Ken and Ruth from Horizons. Jane borrowed the courtesy car to go grocery shopping while I cleaned up the boat.  There was no Publix nearby, but she did well by visiting both Food Lion and Harris Teeter.  Later we were able to catch an Uber and went to Basic Kitchen for dinner.   Another excellent restaurant with great healthy vegan options.

Friday, April 6, 2018:

We decided it was time to go into Charleston for the day and thought it would be fun to go by dinghy. From SJYH it is only five miles to the City Marina going through Elliot Cut.  It takes about 15 minutes to deploy the compact inflatable and another 20 minutes to make the trip.  We stopped by the Post Office to mail some things and visited their Postal Museum.  It’s free so why not?

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We walked further and settled on lunch at Basil Thai.  Excellent.  My friend, Harry Benedict works as a tour guide on the Gray Line bus tours and signed us up for his 3:00 run.  We were the only ones on the bus and received a tour unavailable to the public.

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Charleston has so much history and Harry is truly an expert.  He dropped us back off at the City Marina where our dinghy was secured.  We stopped into Salty Mike’s for a beverage and to catch up on the Masters Tournament before motoring back to SJYH.

It was a warm sunny day, but we were glad to have our windbreakers for the ride back as it was cooling off and the 9.9 hp Tohatsu zips it right along.

Saturday, April 7, 2018:

Jim and Debbie Anderson came all the way from Columbia to visit and showed up at 10:00. We imbibed bloody marys on board before going over to Charleston Crab Company for lunch.  It is always great to visit with such good friends.

While we were at lunch the cruise ship American Star reappeared and steamed by under the bascule bridge.  Is this ship following us, or what?! Once back at the boat, the rain started and we played Jenga while reminiscing and catching up.   They left around 4:00 and Jane and I got a nice nap before round two.

Our old kindergarten classmate Patty Potter Baucom and her husband Mike came to pick us up for dinner at 7:00. We had expected to host them on the boat, but since it was still raining, we jumped in and went with them to the Maybank Public House for drinks before dining at Wild Olive (truly fine dining).  They wouldn’t let us pay for anything and dropped us off with a gift bag of really nice wine (Rombauer!!) and goodies.  Old friends are best and Patty is too sweet.  I think we got back to the marina around 11:00.  It was a long day, but filled with love.

Sunday, April 8, 2018:

Patty is not done with us and has Mike pick us up while she is preparing lunch. They have a gorgeous home on Seabrook Island on the marsh with a tidal creek.  We enjoyed BM’s on the dock (that’s bloody marys, you sicko) and some awesome corn chowder to stifle the chill.  After lunch we stopped by to see Bohicket Marina and that looks like a spot I’d like to visit next time.  After returning to SJYH we caught an Uber ride over to a reception on the city dock at St. Bart’s Yacht Sales for Loopers.  It was good to see so many familiar faces and meet some new folks.  I got to meet the captain of Ariel who anchored behind us in New Teakettle Creek and teased him about it.  We returned to our vessel in time to watch the end of the Masters and our little HD antenna brought in the CBS station for us clearly.

Monday, April 9, 2018:

It is rainy and cold. Jane did lots of laundry (including sheets and comforter) and defrosted the fridge.  I did some maintenance in the engine room.  Overall just a slimy day with the cold wet weather.  Finally, we went out to see a movie (The Leisure Seeker) at the Terrace Theatre. Couldn’t get an Uber for the 4PM show so had to wait until the 7PM showtime.  It’s a very poignant movie about an older couple (our age) struggling with dementia and cancer starring Helen Mirin and Donald Sutherland.  We both loved it. The Terrace Theater is one of those fancy theatres where you can get wine to go with your popcorn. And senior tickets were only $8.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018:

We had thought we’d be leaving today, but the weather is not cooperating. It is still rainy, cold and a little windy.  I’m not one to get in a hurry, so we’re staying put for today.  We did a good deal of route planning and finding spots to anchor or dock through to Norfolk.  As a result of our next intended marina not having room for us tomorrow (will still be cold anyway) and we can stay here for free because it will be the 7th night, we are opting to stay through Thursday morning before shoving off for points north.  The highlight of the day was my Howey classmate, Laurence Stoney, a Charleston native, came to pick us up and took us over to the Tomato Shed for lunch.  What a great place.  He had worked at the packing shed out back in the summers as a teen.  The comfort food was just what was needed. I hadn’t seen Laurence since school (1969) and it was very cool to spend some time with him again.

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St. Simons Island to Beaufort

Tuesday, March 27, 2018:

The forecast is for mostly cloudy with winds out of the east at 7 to 10 mph and a high of 67. The tide at the Frederica Bridge is low at 1236, so I’m trying to wait until near then to shove off from the dock.  We borrowed the courtesy car from the marina and went over to Winn Dixie (mind you, it’s no Publix, but it’ll do nicely for what we want to stock up on).  We get all the heavy items we can, like water and wine and laundry detergent and bleach.  We also stock up on $30 worth of quarters for the laundry machines and go straight back to the marina.  Jane got all our goods stocked while I washed up the boat and refilled the water tanks.  We untied from the dock at 1205 without assistance and eased out into the Frederica River radioing the Morningstar Marina that we enjoyed their hospitality especially the Times Union and fresh muffins each morning.  The cruising was delightful and we had picked a spot to anchor that we could reach in only a few hours.

We were fighting the tide as we churned through Buttermilk Sound. After crossing Altamaha Sound and Doboy Sound, we arrived in New Teakettle Creek at 1645 to anchor in 15 feet of water with only 100 feet of anchor rode out.  It was very private with only the marsh surrounding us for miles.

The afternoon was breezy and the skies partly cloudy.  I remarked to Jane that it is so private, we could skip around the decks in our birthday suits, but she wasn’t game.   After a while, the sailboat, Ariel, that we had passed earlier, came into our private anchorage and anchored just downwind from us.  I kept an eye on our points of reference to make sure we weren’t slipping down towards him, but finally discretion got the best of me and we cranked the engine and moved about 300 yards up the creek to the east.  We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and danced on the fly bridge.  It was a perfect anchorage with slight winds, calm water, and no bugs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018:

Another beautiful forecast for a high of 74 and south winds of up to 14 beginning in the afternoon. We were late to rise, but didn’t care and pulled up the anchor at 1110.  As we exited New Teakettle Creek two boats were passing ahead of us and the lead boat turned out to be our friends, Susie and Jerry Pick, on Happy Ours. The cruising was so nice we kept resetting our plan on where to anchor.  We traversed Sapelo Sound, St. Catherine’s Sound, and kept chugging along to get through Ossaba Sound via the dreaded Hell Gate on the rising tide.

At 1715 we anchored in the Vernon River near the village of Montgomery.  We will only have to go about 14 or 15 miles tomorrow to get to Thunderbolt Marina in Savannah.

Thursday, March 29, 2018:

Looks like another perfect day for cruising with the forecast of SSW winds at 10 mph. The low tide at Thunderbolt Marina on the Wilmington River will be at 1354 hours. We took our time getting ready in the morning to time our arrival with the slack tide.  Docking in the current can be a real challenge with only the one screw and no thrusters for control.  We pulled anchor about 1030 and it was a nice day for a short boat ride.  We meandered past some beautiful homes on Skidaway Island.  We’ve heard other boaters complain about the  arriving at Thunderbolt Marina so at 1235 it was close enough to slack tide that the current was a non-issue and we nestled easily against the inside floating dock by the seawall.  We immediately ran into AGLCA legend Eddy Johnsen and his wife Linda.  Their Grand Banks 36, Spiritus was moored just ahead of us.  Eddy writes Eddy’s Weather Wag which gives looping boaters wishing to cross the Gulf from Carrabelle, Florida, going east to Steinhatchee and other ports south.  His advice on whether to cross or stay at dock is greatly respected among our members.  We also met the Loopers on Hydrophilic (John & Ann Marie Tyrell) who had been running just ahead of us for a couple of days.  At one point I wanted to hail them on the radio as Hydrophallic, but Admiral Jane would have none of that nonsense.  Later on the dock, they said that one of the boats that had previously travelled with them kept calling them Homophobic. Apparently, John and Ann Marie are good sports.

We cruised around the Thunderbolt area on our bikes for the afternoon to get some exercise. Later, we met the other Loopers at Tubby’s Tank House for dinner and enjoyed getting to know them and a new Looper, Jim Grenade, who’s preparing for departure soon aboard his recently purchased trawler, Idle Time.

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Since we are docked so close to the seawall, the oak trees are dropping their stuff all over the decks and Jane got out her battery powered blower to clear them. Twenty minutes later it was a mess again.

We woke up early and went for a run-walk around the neighborhood passing a Thai Restaurant that beckons our return. Some weather blew in and I spent some time on boat maintenance repairing a split A/C duct to the forward cabin.  Then I turned my attention to the Northern Lights generator and changed the oil and oil filter and both primary and secondary fuel filters.  I got some needed advice from Eddy on priming the fuel filters.  Once I was done, I cranked up the genset and it purred happily.

After showers in the adequate marina facilities, we grabbed an Uber into Savannah for dinner at Alligator Soul. This place is in a basement, but it is upscale.  The hostess asked if we had reservations and of course I told her that yes we did, but we came anyway.  She got it with a smile and directed us to the bar.  They encourage dining at the bar, so we were happy.  We have been here before and know that the chef always has something special for the vegan diner.  It was awesome and Dan and Bridget, the bartenders, did a superb job serving us.  After dinner we walked down to River Street where most of the action takes place.  We found our way onto the only free stools at the piano bar in Vic’s Supper Club and imbibed therein a couple of the specialties.

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Some more strolling along the riverfront gained us some souvenir T-shirts before Ubering back to the marina.  On board, we broke out the cards for a game of Gin which I won getting lucky on the last hand.

Saturday, March 31, 2018:

Saturday involved another lengthy bike ride, this time to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts to exchange what I had bought in St. Augustine as white paint. It turned out after I had the primer applied to the generator pan, that the paint I had was some sort of peel off product.  I’ve got way too much work invested for any peeling off.  The exchange was painless (unlike the biking), and I got cash back.  We also stopped at River Marine for other various boat maintenance items.  It’s a great store, well stocked with good prices and near the marina.

For the evening, Uber is our friend again. Uber whisked us over to dinner at the Atlantic with our friend Sam.  She is a Savannah resident, who has just returned from her wedding trip.  She delivered us back so that she could see Sabbatical and we visited on the fly bridge.

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The full moon brought a ten foot swing in tide.  Note the pictures taken from the same spot.

Sunday, April 1, 2018, (Easter):

I whipped up a batch of walnut pancakes for breakfast which were met with rave reviews from the entire crew. (ok, it’s only Jane, but still….) Then we’re off on another biking adventure to attend Easter Service at Connexion Church.  We needed to go through Savannah State College campus, but the gates were closed so we trekked the long way around, but still made it in plenty of time.  Connexion Church is the result of three churches that merged just over a year ago.  They were two black churches and one white church.  The congregants were most friendly, but their youth-led Easter service was less than spectacular.  In the afternoon we rode our bikes over to nearby Bonaventure Cemetery and walked around the beautiful grounds.  Didn’t find any dead people we knew.

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We have continued to meet other Looping boaters and Docktails at 1700 in the screen porch of the marina was attended by Jean and Jerry Coleman (Making Memories) from Tarpon Springs, Jim (Idle Time), Dan and Jenny Lynn Girvan (Melody in Sea) from Michigan, and Ken Purcell and Ruth Frank (Horizons) from Chicago.  We were lucky to have such a group to share their knowledge and experience of various places on the Loop.

Later that night, we chanced upon Jesus Christ, Superstar on the TV, which we hardly ever watch, but we were trying to see if we would be able to watch the basketball game on Monday night. That is one great musical.  Amazing energy.

Monday, April 2, 2018:

We spent time prepping to leave with Jane doing more laundry and I filled the water tanks and attended to engine room checks. The forecast called for fog before 1000, but afterwards sunny with a high of around 83.  South winds around 10 mph should boost our cruising.  With the high tide scheduled for 1043, I’m in no hurry to escape the dock.  We cranked up at 1000 and eased on over to the fuel dock, not for fuel but for a pump out of the holding tank.  Patrick was there to help, but we were not getting suction.  Finally, I noticed that the other end of the hose was not connected to their pump.  Patrick screwed it back in and then the two of us wrestled the giant twisted anaconda (poop hose) to get it straightened back out.

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With the tank drained we eased out into the river at 1030.  By 1125 we were crossing the Savannah River and into South Carolina.  While the crow may only have to fly 100 miles to cover the coast of Georgia, our circuitous route through the marshes and creeks seems like twice that.  Crossing the river, there was no commercial traffic to contend with.  At 1222 we were in the Cooper River and decided that we might as well enjoy cruising further and Jane called the Downtown Marina in Beaufort to see if we could have a mooring ball.  It looks good so we abandon our plan to anchor out and continue on.  At 1425 proceeded into Port Royal Sound.  There is some light boat traffic and ferries operating.  It also appears that we have spotted the cruise ship American Star again, but this time it was Independence.

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We made it around Parris Island and into the Beaufort River and picked up a mooring ball at 1630.  With the dinghy deployed we putted into the dock, got registered and after walking about a bit stumbled into Luther’s for dinner.  We took a bar-height table near the bar.  I recommend Luther’s for drinks. (They have a help wanted sign up, and I think they’re desperate.)  The bartender seemed personable though, but she was a little overworked.  There was a couple sitting at the bar very near us and as we finished up our repast he eked out one clearly-audible flatulence.  Unembarrassed, he spun around, held up his hand and looking at Jane said, “My bad”.  Frankly, that’s an ice-breaker.  Turns out they are from Long Island, NY, and looking to move to Beaufort.  He was enthralled about out trip and we left him a card to follow the blog.  Now he’s in it.  We returned to the boat with the dinghy at giddy-up throttle and bathed aboard in the tiny tub.  We couldn’t get the NCAA championship basketball game on the TV and turned in after a long day.  We better be able to get the Masters this weekend, wherever we are.

Queen’s Harbour to St. Simons Island

Tuesday, March 20, 2018:

We were visited on the dock by David, the harbor master. He’s an English dude that professed to full knowledge of our vessel and our intended next stop at the Jacksonville City free dock at Sisters Creek.  He was gracious enough offering us the use of their dock for another night since there was a big storm approaching.  David advised us against going to Sisters Creek as the dock there is always packed with sailboats that don’t leave ignoring the 72 hour maximum tie-up.  We took it all in with a shaker of salt and then called the AGLCA harbor host for Jacksonville, Browne Altman.  Browne said he was about to drive right by the Sisters Creek dock and would call us back with info about what space might be available.  Soon enough, he called back to report that only one sailboat was at the dock.  So we untied from Queen’s Harbour at 0930 and spun around in the narrow basin to head out their channel.  The weather appeared to be holding off for a few hours and Sisters Creek was only four miles including crossing the St. John’s River.  As we exited the channel back to the ICW, I spotted Nellie Mae chugging along just ahead of us.  We found out over the radio that they are headed to Amelia Island.  As we approached the St. John’s, green buoy #7 appeared to be out of place.  It was way over to the west side.  Nellie Mae was ahead and kept it to starboard, but radioed me and advised that it may have been displaced.  Keeping an eye on the depth sounder, I kept my heading as if that was the case.  I had no issue and plenty of water under keel.  I’m sure we will encounter more situations like this and staying alert is imperative as soon we will be cruising in unfamiliar waters.  At 1005 we docked at Sisters Creek with help from Loopers, Kurt and Barbara Jean Walter (In His Time).  We were the fourth boat to dock and met Captain Rodger & Lorrie Swink (Reality) and Dale and Debbie Montgomery from the sailboat Prosperity. I spent the rest of the day catching up on the blog and had technical difficulties moving pictures from our phones to the computer.  Later, two other sailboats came in to dock and we met Peter and Kathy from Gentle Presence and Stefan and Jojo from Gibraltar in their 22 ton sailing vessel, Radiant Spirit.

They were most interesting to talk to during spirited docktails aboard In His Time. We enjoyed hearing about their Atlantic crossing and they loved learning about our American culture and expressions.  We turned in around Looper Midnight (9:00 PM), but with the wind howling, the dock lines groaning and the water drumming on the hull, sleep was fitful until I remembered to use my earplugs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018:

We stayed in bed well after 8:00 am. The wind is continuing to blow and there are whitecaps in the creek from 30 to 35 mph gusts.

Due to the forecast of continuing high winds, we elect to stay put for another night and then move on up to a mooring ball at Fernandina tomorrow.  Reading the AGLCA forum this morning, Jane noted that a member boat, Hearken, was just beginning their loop today from Jacksonville.  I saw them passing our dock and tried to radio with the handheld, but me thinks the captain was too busy trying to maintain steerage in the high winds.  It reminded me of our first day on Charlotte Harbor.  I wanted to cheer them on and welcome them to looping and let them know that we understand that when you’re ready to go, you go.  The rest of the day was route planning and readjusting fenders to accommodate the winds that were pushing us onto the dock.  The wind got to a point where I tied the burgee up to keep from losing another.  Evening time was spent with the same group this time on Reality. Staying here, we relished in getting to know our co-loopers and the sailboaters.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018:

We escaped the dock with help from Stefan and Jojo at 1005. The wind was pushing us into the dock, but once I got the stern moving to starboard and the portside bow away from the dock (thanks to Jojo’s fending), all was well.  We turned left coming out of the creek and encountered a few boats occasionally, but pretty much had the waterway to ourselves poking along on a crystal clear day.  The forecast was for a moderate chop on the inland waterways, but the ICW was no problem.  There was a bit of NW winds when we traversed Nassau Sound to make the sharp left at marker 46 to continue up the waterway.  As we approached the A1A Bridge we noticed that the railroad bridge on the other side was closing.

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No biggie, we get to see another train.  After the freight train was gone the railroad bridge began to open.  As I’m maneuvering in between the bridge fenders, I notice that there is a go-fast day cruiser coming up beside on my port.  We look over and he motions that there’s three others with him and he barrels on under the bridge moving ahead with too much speed and way too much wake.  Then the boats two and three (Livin’ the Dream) follow right up and pass us while we’re trying to negotiate the bridge and they’re rocking us violently while accelerating and the wakes bounce off the fenders.  I’m too busy to call them on channel 16 and too stunned to think about photographing these SOB’s.  Finally after I’m through the bridge without hitting anything, boat four (Indie), calls on the radio and asked for a starboard pass.  We tell him to come on ahead and give us a slow pass and I cut speed for him to come on by.  After he got by, I radioed him and thanked him for the slow pass and asked if he wouldn’t mind giving his friends a lesson in boating safety and etiquette.  I was about in channel rage, but outwardly remained composed.  It was the worst part of the day, so it’s a pretty good day.

We arrived to moor on buoy number 9 in Fernandina Harbor at 1310. Even though we had to wait about 20 minutes on the RR bridge, we still covered the 23 miles in less than 3 ½ hours.  I got the dinghy ready to go and we packed our shower gear for land based showers.  After checking in and getting cleaned up we putted back out to drop off our things and then came right back to the dinghy dock and walked up to the Palace Saloon for a much needed adult beverage.  The Palace is Florida’s Oldest Bar and was the perfect spot to set free the tension that the four boats from Hilton Head caused.

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Then we walked around a bit and did some window shopping and settled into Café Karibo for an early dinner on the patio until we decided that it was too cold and moved inside.  We had eaten here a couple of times before on previous trips and they did not disappoint.  Great food.  We eased on back out to the boat well before sundown and hung out on the fly bridge reading.

 

Friday, March 23, 2018:

We cranked up at 1045 and eased over to Port Consolidated Fuels just north of the marina.  I put Jane in the engine room to watch the sight glass and let me know just before the starboard tank was full.  This keeps our fuel from sloshing up and out the vent tube.  That took 87 ½ gallons, so we also put 87 ½ in the port tank.  This is the first time we have refueled and having covered over 520 miles, I’m delighted with our consumption.  The friendly attendant, Bob informed us that the cost was only $2.80 per gallon and we wouldn’t be subject to Florida Sales Tax if we completed the form that we were leaving the state.  We bid Bob a fond farewell and good to our word, crossed the Florida-Georgia line less than 45 minutes later.  As we cruised up between Cumberland Island and the ICW, we  spotted 3 USCG high speed chase boats headed out the St. Mary’s Inlet.  The first two had what appeared to be 50 caliber machine guns on the bow with a gunner at the ready.

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We arrived and set anchor in about 13 feet of water with only 125 feet of rode at the Cumberland Island anchorage just west of the Sea Camp Dock. Again we ran onto  our friends on the Gentle Presence.  We dinghied into the dock and and checked in with the ranger on duty.  We are welcomed to the Cumberland Island National Seashore without cost showing our National Park Senior Passes.  These things have already proven to be a great purchase.  We had thought about bringing the folding bikes on the dinghy, but figured that would be too much trouble and opted to walk.  The ranger let us know that a sub would be coming in soon and I realized that’s why the chase boats went out.  During our walk down the River Trail to the Dungeness Ruins we spotted the submarine coming in flanked by two war ships and being escorted by a sundry of smaller attack boats for additional security.

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During our hike, we encountered the wild horses by the Dungeness Ruins. Dungeness was built in the late 1800’s by Thomas Carnegie.  They really did it up right.  They had lots of recreational buildings and even a heated pool.  We also visited the original grave of General Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee III.  He died here in 1818, but the remains were later removed to Virginia.

We crossed the sizable dunes and walked back up the beach without anyone else around and made it back to our dinghy around 4:45. We used the grill for the first time for cooking potatoes and grilled eggplant.  Jane outdid herself in the little boat galley whipping up a gourmet dinner including sautéed asparagus.

Kings Bay Submarine Base is across the water from our anchorage and at sundown, I could hear them play colors.

Saturday, March 24, 2018:

We slept in a little but up at 0800 and could clearly hear the National Anthem coming from the Navy Base prompting me to stand at attention and salute, knowing the flag was being raised.DSC_0786 - Copy

It was a perfectly clear day with flat water and we pulled anchor at 1020 delighting in the lack of mud. We had the waterway mostly to ourselves and a southerly wind so we went right across St. Andrews Sound and avoiding the extra time of the meandering Floyd Creek.

As we exited Jekyll Creek into the Brunswick River I could see the top of a cargo ship coming into harbor. As Patriot neared, I kept well clear of the channel in ample water to avoid this behemoth.

We docked at Morningstar Marina at Golden Isles at 1500 with assistance from Chic Candler. We negated any issues with the current since high tide was at 1514.  After checking in for three nights, we cleaned up the boat and Jane did three loads of laundry and by then it was time for the showers.  We were excited to be hosting our old friend, Kathy Swift and her new husband, Craig Hall aboard for libations.  They arrived at 6:00 and after our time on board, we were chauferred by Craig to the island for a drink at their local watering hole, Marsh Point, and then on to Travici Restaurant which is managed by Craig’s brother, Galen.  That’s right. This guy’s name is Galen Hall.  If you’re not an SEC football fan, it might not mean anything to you, but apparently, he has used this to win a few bar bets and may have received hotel room without charge.   We got the primo table and great service.  Craig had caught a bunch of Red Fish that afternoon, so that’s what we had.  Fried for appetizer grilled over pasta for entrée.  It was simply fantastic.  We caught an Uber back to the boat.

Sunday, March 25, 2018:

Found on the deck first thing in the am: the Florida Times Union newspaper and two blueberry muffins all wrapped up in a plastic bag.  This is a very nice and unexpected lagniappe indeed.  Jane made grits and then we headed out on our bikes the 2.5 miles to St. Simons Community Church.  It was a large church and we both enjoyed the service.  Then it was on to the Harris Teeter Grocery Store where we got some needed items and ate lunch from their hot bar at a table out front.  When we got back on the bikes the wind started to blow and the temperature dropped.  There’s a storm acomin’ and who’s gonna grab Toto?  We pedaled back as fast as we could and made it to the boat before getting soaked.

Craig picked us up at 6:00 for dinner at their house and it was a fun time getting to know him better and catching up with Kathy.  We celebrated our second month on America’s Great Loop.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

With the wind whipping and the temperature dropped to 55 with pelting rain, we’re happy to just stay aboard at the dock. We route planned, Jane finished all our laundry and I worked on this blog.  We had left the aft curtain off the fly bridge enclosure and the north wind had blown the rain in and soaked most of it.  The wind took my hat while I was trying to dry things up.  Jane made a big pot of yummy soup and we’re looking forward to better weather tomorrow.  The Intra Coastal Waterway through the Georgia coast meanders mazelike through the of marsh of the low country.  It’s best to only travel on days with the fairest weather and a rising tide avoiding shoals and bars.

St. Augustine to Queens Harbour

 

Friday, March 9, 2018:

It was a beautiful sunny morning, but a chilly 44 degrees. We flipped on the heater and after breakfast I finished up the last blog post.  I never realized how much work writing is.  Late in the afternoon we got all spiffed up for the Marshall Tucker concert.  Our first plan was to walk to the St. Augustine Amphitheater, but then Jane thought she’d get too windblown so we opted for an Uber.  Since we were all ready to go and it was still early, we quaffed a vino on the flybridge and over the course of about 15 minutes watched the Uber price jump from $6.00 to $23.00.  Oops!  I guess we failed to recognize that all the Uber drivers would be busy just before the concert.  Just another 20 minutes for Roberto to show up and few dollars more we arrived just before the 5:30 start time.  We grabbed a pretty good mushroom vegi sandwich from a food truck (converted Air Stream Trailer appropriately named The Bullet).  I must say though that the tater tots were perfectly crispy and well-seasoned.

 

The amphitheater seats just over 5,000 and the concessions offer all manner of adult beverages.  Jane had done a great job getting us awesome seats on the third row and we sat down as the Outlaws were beginning their second song.  They totally rocked the house.  They were followed by Marshall Tucker Band who is one of our favorites, and then Charlie Daniels.  At 81 he can still work that fiddle and put on a great show.  Travis Tritt was batting clean-up and of course, he put on a hell of a show.  I was feeling pretty good about catching a guitar pick from one of the Outlaws until the guy in the front row got a tambourine from the Marshall Tucker band, but also Charlie Daniels’ fiddle bow!  The entire concert was over at 10:30 which I’m sure is a condition of noise enforcement on the venue.  Gainesville has toyed with the idea of building an amphitheater and if they can make it anywhere near as nice as this one, they should do it.  Getting great acts like St. A does consistently is key to the success.

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We walked all the way back after the concert and while it was not necessary and may not have even been advisable, we paid a visit to the Tradewinds before retreating to the vessel. For those of you unfamiliar with Tradewinds, when you leave your hair and clothes smell very smoky but the bands are always rocking and the drinks are good. The town is filling up with bikers since it is Bike Week in Daytona and half of them were at the Tradewinds that night.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018:

Our friends, Jeff and Beth Siegel, drove over from Gainesville to see the boat and visit for a while. We all walked a circuitous route to the Floridian Restaurant following Jane and her not-so-smart phone.  By the time we got there, we all had a great appetites and the food was awesome again.  Meredith was also due to arrive with our grandsons to stay the night.  She called during lunch and they had gone on out to the beach and promptly got her car stuck on the beach.   AAA failed to show up with the proper truck, but a nice deputy helped dig her out.  Later, on the boat, we all enjoyed the champagne that the Siegels had brought to toast our adventure.

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Since there is a great old Putt Putt course right at the marina, we took the kids to play Putt-Putt.

It was quite competitive but Riley was sick so we returned to the boat and had some leftovers.

 

Sunday, March 11, 2018:

With our clocks sprung forward (for the last time, I hope), Jane whipped up a breakfast of grits and garbanzo flour and veggie omelets. It was surprisingly good.  Riley was feeling better after a good night’s sleep, so we all walked over to the fort.

The Spanish soldiers fired the cannons while we were there.  It was quite exciting and we had a hard time convincing Riley that the noise would be tolerable with hands on the ears.  He hates loud sounds so it was scary for him but he did fine.  After we left the fort we took the kids over to the big playground and that happened to be right next to where the Scottish games were in progress.  We enjoyed watching them toss the 100 pound pole.  Jane and Meredith especially enjoyed the very muscular men in their kilts.  Not short enough according to them.

Soon, it was lunch time, and back we went to the Floridian.  The food was wonderful as usual, but there was one grumpy six year-old at our table.  After lunching leisurely, Meredith took Jane on a grocery run.  We bid goodbye to Meredith and the kids for what seems like a long time coming and then we cleaned up the boat and Jane did laundry in the marina.  On her way to the laundry, Jane got to talking to another Looper who was speaking with a guy that Jane thought looked familiar.  Turns out it was Lloyd Clarke who owns the store where we buy our running shoes.  He accepted an invitation to join us on the boat for happy hour.

Monday, March 12, 2018:

Jane got up very early (4:30 am!) and I slept in while the rain poured down. We just hung out on board most of the day, while I did some genealogy research and fixed the loose hot water handle on the aft head sink.  We walked over to the Ace Hardware and found a couple of items.  Talked to Scott on the phone and found out he was giving the talk at the YL Capernaum Club that night in Nashville.  After walking all over and fixing a few things, the wind outside had picked up to 20-25mph, and so a big pasta dinner on the boat was cozy and yummy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018:

We woke up to almost freezing weather and had to turn on the heater for a while. We are getting used to reading the Gainesville Sun newspaper online and always like to read the AGLCA and MTOA forums to keep up to date on the latest news.  Bill and Martha Kloeppel arrived with a bag full of fresh vegetables from Hastings.  A perfect boat-warming gift! We found out we needed to move to a new slip at the marina since we had been there so long and they are short on dockage with access to electricity.  So Billy and Martha had a short boat ride from slip 42 to slip 33. We were thankful for slack tide and no wind. Tommy and Diana arrived about 12:30 and we all visited for a while before sauntering over to the Blue Hen in Lincolnville for lunch.

Great local restaurant with vegan options so we were all happy with the food.  Wine was enjoyed and naps were needed after our company departed.  Oh, the afternoon naps certainly are lovely. Just before sundown, the 200’ cruise ship, American Star, came to dock at the fuel dock for the night.   Quite the commotion watching them dock that monster ship with the monkey fists to get the lines ashore – I even helped!

The ship made the 68ft Nordhaven that had moved in to our previous slip look small.  Apparently, they had cruised all the way from the Marshall Islands.  That’s a different kind of cruising.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018:

Another cold morning. We’re tired of this and refuse to move further north until it warms up.  Without shore power to run our heater, we justified sleeping in late.  I didn’t totally waste the day and cleaned the bilge and then wire brushed the generator pan and motor mounts.  Then I turned my attention on the main engine mounts and the transmission.  Having the right brass brushes for the drill and dremel really made a tough job fun.  It looks like a new engine room now.  Even Jane was impressed and she was most helpful handing me tools and towels.

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We enjoyed getting to know Mary and Tim when they joined us for docktails. They are doing the Loop on their 25 foot red tug, Nellie Mae.

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They are from South Dakota and had to trailer their tug 600 miles to get it in the river system to begin their loop in Illinois.  That’s perseverance.

Thursday, March 15, 2018:

This morning we ran the generator to get some heat since the inside of our boat is the same temp as the outside, which was 42, but then decided to get in a run before breakfast. We went over the Bridge of Lions and around the neighborhoods on Anastasia Island.  Walked through the Conch House Marina and holy cow, the damage.  Sad to see. Later we biked out to US 1 for shopping and then joined Tim and Mary at Ann O’Malley’s for trivia night.  He is great at trivia, and we almost won but blew it on the final question ranking the popularity of dogs according to the AKC.  Who knew Beagles and Dachshunds were more popular than Shitzus? Not us.

Friday, March 16, 2018:

We rode our bikes about 4 miles to the Manatee Café for breakfast and then on the return trip, stopped by O’Reilly Auto Parts for some primer and paint for the generator. The path we chose through the neighborhoods west of US1 was picturesque and we rode home a different way near the water. I got the pan and mounts all taped and painted and again Jane was impressed.

Saturday, March 17, 2018:

Jane woke me up at 4:30 am and was adamant about wanting us to bike over to Vilano (in the dark) and run the Vilano Bridge 5K Run. I don’t need to bike 4 or 5 miles just to run.  Nor do I need to pay $35 to get some exercise, but alas, I chose correctly and decided that it’s better for me to be grumpy for a little while than for Jane to get pissy all day.   Riding over the bridge and seeing the sunrise was super.  We met our friends Ed and Lesley Myers waiting for the race to start and enjoyed our requisite post-race beers with them after.

Later after naptime, we hosted Ed & Lesley and their friends, Paul and Joyce aboard for docktails at 4:00. Then we all went back to their condo in South Ponte Vedra for dinner.  They have a penthouse on the intracoastal side which yields a great sunset which I failed to capture here.

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We put the Gator vs Texas Tech NCAA tournament game on but by halftime Jane and I Ubered back to the marina.  I watched the end of the game in the boaters lounge by myself.  We lost by three.  Oh well, wait’ll next year.  Jane’s fitbit recorded more than 25,000 steps today so she was satisfied with the amount of exercise and let me go to sleep at an appropriate time.

Sunday, March 18, 2018:

I installed the new ventilation cover on the generator. It is like a metal belt that wraps the flywheel and was an ordeal, but I got it slipped through correctly with a good bit of pushing, pulling, tapping and cussing.  It was a beautiful sunny day and Captain Josh Metcalf came over and gave us lots of great advice and encouragement.  It’s great to talk to someone who knows all about boats and whom you can trust. I ran the generator for over an hour to get the batteries all charged up.  We got a pump out of the holding tank and I refilled the water tanks so we’d be ready to leave tomorrow.  Then we gave Sabbatical a complete bath before getting our own showers.  We’re all cleaned up but worried about the approaching storm tomorrow.  Leaving St. Augustine may have to be delayed, but we’ll decide that in the morning.

Monday, March 19, 2018:

The storm blew through early, so we backed out of the slip at 1015. There were four other boats that needed the Bridge of Lions raised.  Three coming south with the tide were first and then we followed the sailing vessel Meanderer after they cleared the bridge.  Once past the bridge Meanderer called us to come on and pass when ready.  When we got even, he called on the radio to ask about Sabbatical and was very complimentary about her lines and good looks.  As we neared Vilano, I called my real estate partner, Todd Rainsberger, to see if he might be at their house on the waterway.  He was and came out to wish us well and watch us pass as we chugged on north under the Vilano Bridge.  I miss working with Todd but I think he understands why we are doing this now.  It was fun to be in St. Augustine but after two and half weeks it sure feels good to get some water passing under the hull.  We had a beautiful cruise up the waterway and passing the airport we were entertained by a bi-plane doing touch and goes.  Being Monday, we encountered very few boats and enjoyed the balmy, partly cloudy day.  Near the end of our run to Queen’s Harbour, a larger faster boat, El Capitain, came up from behind and radioed to give a gentle slow pass.  It really is nice when other boaters are so kind.  Jane pointed out that he is also going to Queens Harbour.  I had to doubt that, but she claims to have a sixth sense about these things.  Sure enough, right before we got there, I heard him radio for a lock-through.  How does she know?  It’s spooky.

The lock operator on duty is my friend from Howey Academy, Harry James. Harry arranged for us to stay the night at the floating dock outside the lock.  It was a nice accommodation with electric in the protected harbor.  After Harry was done locking through El Capitain he came down to the floater to take our lines and help get us tied.  We were all secured by 1515 and Harry’s relief showed up, and he suggested that he take us out to Publix.  We did a major resupply and got back to the boat just before the rain came back.  Soon after that, Borden (another old Howey friend) and Sue Hawkins arrived for boatdrinks on the flybridge while the rain pelted the canvas.

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Once it let up, we all went off to Parsons for dinner.  The food, service and company were all perfect.

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Harry mentioned that we’re in for more rough weather tomorrow and suggested that we might want to just hang tight at Queen’s Harbour, but we’ll check it out in the morning.

A lot of the other boaters we have met have highly encouraged us to get auto-pilot, so it would be a good idea to install one.

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St. Augustine

DSC_0637Friday, March 2, 2018:

Jane took a long walk after breakfast while I worked on the last blog post. She explored downtown and enjoyed seeing Travis’s former house on Mulvey.  We had fond memories of painting and moving him in to that 3rd floor fire hazard for his senior year at Flagler College in 2009.  It was really a cute spot and great location.  Meredith and grandson Evan arrived in the mid afternoon and then went off to pick up her friend, Staci and family, flying in on a private plane.  Must be nice to be married to a pilot.  Jane and I walked over the Bridge of Lions and decided to check out Marker 8 motel and marina.  This was the old Anchorage and it has been totally redone.  We got info on docking there and walked back just as the sun set.

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It was a little chilly, so we finally used up 3 cans of the soup that we had aboard and played Jenga. Thanks to Garrett Bell for the games.  When a wake hits the boat, it’s all just part of the game.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018:

Meredith was staying at the Hampton Inn out at the beach, but came and took Jane to Publix at Vilano for provisions. Not the best Publix but they do carry wine.  Jason showed up in the late morning and on board we watched the Gators whip Kentucky on TV via our HD Mohu antenna.  (When it works, it’s great.)  Watching the TV with the horizon waving (it was really rough in the bay with lots of wind and current) in the background  caused a slight motion sickness for Jason so instead of sleeping on the boat with us that night as planned, he spent the night with his friend, Steve,  who lives on the golf course at St Johns. Jason drove us over to the Hampton Inn to hang with Meredith et al around the pool at the Hampton Inn.

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There were some college students on spring break there that needed some counseling on life so I regaled them with some yarns and advice.

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Evan and Kenzie played Jenga with GJ and walked on the beach to show her the hole they dug that was heading to China.

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After catching a ride back to the marina, we walked over to the Floridian Restaurant (Southern comfort food) for dinner.  We ate at the bar upstairs and it was incredible.  I got Tofu and Grits.  Might not sound right to you, but I loved it.

Sunday, March 4, 2018:

More grits. Yes, we like grits. And then off to Memorial Presbyterian for service at 1100.  It is a beautiful old church and the final resting place of Henry Flagler.

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After church we met Jason, Meredith, and Evan along with Staci’s family for lunch at the Conch House. Then we all came back over to the boat.  Evan loved showing off “his” boat to Kenzie.

After a short nap we hosted Mike and Carol Oyenarte along with Lyla and Whit Springfield for docktails.  They brought beautiful platters of appetizers!  Who needed dinner after all that?  We all had a great time!

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Monday, March 5, 2018:

I changed Big Red’s oil and filter. The previous owner, Tim O’Neill, set up a handy tube connected to the oil pan drain plug hole to which I could attach the pick-up tube from the changing pump.  It is then an easy and clean process to pump the old oil into the saved jugs from the previous change and then get them to the used oil bin on shore for proper disposal.

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Then I replaced the pencil zinc and replenished the batteries with distilled water.  It requires some real engine room yoga to get the batteries serviced.  Afterwards, we rode our bikes to Target to pick up a few things.  We called our grandson, Jake, to wish him a happy 16th birthday.   We failed to send the requisite $5 bill in a card, but I bet he’s gonna love having Jane’s old Yukon instead.  A safe car for a teenager and it’s neat it previously belonged to his great granddaddy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018:

Enterprise picked us up and we took a rental car to Gainesville for a quick trip. We both got our hair did, took our dog to the vet and I was able get by the hospital to visit Annette who is like a second mother to me.  Got takeout from Grill Fresh which is located in the old Everyday Gourmet next to Café Gardens. Wonder if any business will ever make it there. Oh well. I also got a chance to stop by the office and see some of my old real estate cohorts.  It was good to hear that I look “rested and relaxed”.  I didn’t imagine that I would actually miss working, but I really do miss the team interaction with Tracy, Todd, Beau and Dean.  After picking up some stuff at the house, we hustled on back to St. A and greeted Scoot and Debbie Gallagher along with Chip and Mary Ann Williams aboard for drinks before walking over to O.C. Whites for dinner.  It was a great visit with fun friends.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018:

Got up early to return the rental car.   Met other mariners here that were also returning their car so Enterprise could return both of us to the marina with one trip.  Jane did laundry in the morning and then our old boating buddies, Larry and Linda Awbrey, arrived.  It was fun showing them around the boat.   We hung out on the boat for a while and then sauntered over to A1A Ale House for lunch.

After the Awbreys left it was nap time for us.  Sometimes, one just feels tired without having really done much.  For dinner, Jane created another masterpiece salad from our Tuesday lunch leftovers.  We enjoyed reading in the evening and I finished Dan Brown’s Origin.  That was tough to put down.  Unlike this blog, it’s a real page-flipper.

Thursday, March 8, 2018:

Cold again this morning and we turned on the heater for a while. We spent a couple of hours planning possible stops between here and Norfolk.  My brother, Mike, and his wife Cam drove over to meet us for lunch and brought along their daughter, Kelly .  We met up at O.C. Whites and dined upstairs in cozy warmth.  Mike brought us a loaf of his home-baked sourdough bread.  It was great to see them, but I neglected to take any pictures.  Where is my brain?  After they left we decided to walk over to Castillo de San Marcos.  Construction began on the fort in 1672 and today it looks very much like it would have when completed in 1756.  The Castillo is a National Monument so we could use our National Parks Senior Pass for free admission.  I always enjoy visiting the old fort and (avoiding the tour groups of school kids) and we took our time to read all the historical placards.

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After a little happy hour back aboard Sabbatical we thought we should check out Captain John’s favorite restaurant in St. Augustine, so we set off on our bikes bundled up against the cold bound for Hurricane Patty’s.  It was less than a fifteen minute ride from the marina and we gobbled up some good grub.  Hurricane Patty’s is a casual island-inspired, waterfront seafood spot on the San Sebastian River.  We were happy with a booth inside since it was so cold and getting dark by the time we arrived.  Those headlamps certainly came in handy for the ride back in the dark, especially after enjoying some wine.  No BUI this visit.

 

Cocoa to St. Augustine

Friday, February 23, 2018:

There was a light shower as I filled the water tanks in the early morning. It was hardly enough to get us wet.  I was glad to see the water beading up on the part of the teak bow rail that I repaired yesterday.  The wind was inconsequential and the forecast was for Southeast winds of 10-15 knots and the Intracoastal a moderate chop.  We departed the dock at Cocoa Village Marina at 0915 without assistance or incident.  As we cruised north soon the Rocket Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral came into view.   I knew it was miles away and it was in view for hours.

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The cruise of the day was easy and as the day wore on, the clouds continued to dissipate as it turned into a beautiful day. Apparently, in this area, fishermen think it is a good idea to fish between the fenders of bridges.  That’s not a recommended practice, but I always practice courtesy and caution, slowing to not rock them too much.

Eventually the channel turned east toward the Haulover Canal. As we entered the canal it became apparent that many manatees were harboring there.  I have never seen so many at one time.  They seemed to be having a great time playing with each other and just lulling around.

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Approaching New Smyrna Beach, I happened to glance down on the starboard side and see a school of rays also moving north. There may have been 50 or more of them seeming to swim in unison.  I couldn’t grab the camera quick enough though, but we did catch these two choppers about to refuel in flight.

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We made it to the NSB City Marina at 1535 and had a very easy slip assignment straight ahead and downwind on the floating dock.

DSC_0564  Pelican Rookery Island at NSB

We showered and rested up before hosting Rick and Deedy Crossland for docktails and then walked with them to dinner at Yellow Dog Eats. They will begin the Loop from Ponce Inlet April 1st.

Saturday, February 24, 2018:

I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Around mid-morning one of my old Howey Academy classmates, Jim Simpson showed up on the dock.  He lives in Pennsylvania, but has a condo in NSB, so it made sense to meet up here.  The three of us knocked around the art show and farmer’s market just across from the marina.   We hadn’t seen Jim since 1985 so there was a good bit of catching up and trying to remember old times at school.  Later he returned to the condo and Jane and I caught up on nap time.   Jim’s wife Georgia was flying into Sanford around 6:00, so on their way back from the airport they picked us up and we all went to their 8th floor condo at Minorca on the north end of the island.  We brought salad and Jane’s infamous 7 layer dip, so we all enjoyed the evening with dinner and some wine may have been involved.  It was wonderful reconnecting with my old friend.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018:

We left the dock of NSB Marina at 0956 and stayed in the ICW to avoid the shoaling around the NSB inlet. The tide was pushing against our headway and soon enough I knew that we would not arrive as early as I wanted.  Our destination was only about 15 miles and we completed the run up to Daytona docking at the Halifax River Yacht Club at 1215.  I had made repeated calls by phone and radio to the HRYC (all to no avail), to make sure they would have a temporary tie up for us.  Finally, once we pulled into their basin, I saw a spot on the dock and just pulled in like it was there just for us.  Turns out the dock master had fallen in the water a few days prior and his cell phone and handheld marine radio were both out of service.  He was fine with the spot we took, and directed us to the Tiki Hut to meet my Uncle, Gator Bert Reames, his wife, Julie, and their son Roosevelt along with my sister, Susie, and her boyfriend, Jay.  It was a leisurely lunch and we all enjoyed the food, fresh air and the company.  Regrettably, I neglected to get any pictures of our group.

After lunch we pulled out of the HRYC at 1400 and motored up to just south of the L.B. Knox Bridge and set anchor next to Highbridge Park and North Peninsula State Park. I have no idea why it is called Highbridge Park since the L.B. Knox draw bridge has a vertical clearance of only 15 feet.  As the sun set, the few fishermen left in their boats and we were all alone anchored just about 2/10 of a mile south of the bridge.  I rigged up my new shower for the stern deck and just after dark we slipped out on deck au naturale to get cleaned up.  Jane was ok with this since it was dark and was sure the bridge tender couldn’t see us.  Of course, afterward I did let her know that any bridge tender worth his salt would have night vision binoculars.  We slept well and the anchor alarm never sounded.  I was a little concerned about the possibility of swinging into shallow water since we were so close to the east shore of the waterway.

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DSC_0582  This guy seemed curious.

Monday, February 26, 2018:

We got up at sunrise, but stayed inside reading the Gainesville paper on line and having breakfast. We have changed from running the generator at anchor to make coffee to simply boiling water on the gas stove and then pouring it over the grounds in the coffee maker.  We cranked Big Red at 0900 and by 0910 we had the anchor up and all the mud washed off the anchor and chain with the handy shower head on the expanding hose.   I radioed on channel 9 to request opening the Knox Bridge.  The tender was jovial and asked if we were bankers since he thought we just rolled out of bed.  By 0915 we had cleared the bascule bridge and were heading on northward through the narrow ICW passing a great many grand waterfront estates.  We found out we could get a slip at Marineland Marina for only $1.25 per foot so felt like we couldn’t afford not to stay there.  Jane made contact by phone and we reserved the slip for three days.  A three day slip rental here also gets you two free passes to the dolphin show, so we were good.  It was a nice day for cruising, partly cloudy after a brief shower just before we pulled anchor.

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By 1145 we had docked at Marineland with the help of marina manager, Eric Ziecek (UF alum) in slip #42 just down the ramp by the office. The entire marina was rebuilt last year so all the facility is in primo shape.

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Just across the dock from us was an Albin 43 that looked to be of similar vintage as ours, so we went to say hello and compliment their boat.  You can meet the nicest people this way and we did.  The owners, Mike and Mercy Byrd, are living on board and have their Portuguese water dog, Ike.  Mike’s a Georgia Bull Dawg from Atlanta, but I couldn’t hold that against him.  After just a few minutes, they had offered us the use of their car.  Quickly, Jane was summoning her mental grocery list and we accepted for a run to Publix.  You can pack a lot more stuff into a Subaru than you can a backpack, so we wisely provisioned up, taking full advantage of the motor coach.   We had Mike and Mercy come over for docktails at 1800 and we all enjoyed it.  Even Ike made an appearance and like a true waterdog, had no problem making it up to our top deck.  Apparently dogs like hummus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018:

A pretty lazy day. We went for a walk on the beach, Jane made dill potato salad and awesome grilled “cheese” sandwiches for lunch, and then we took a nap after reading.  Later, Jane made a really great vegi-pasta dish and we turned in early.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018:

We walked across the highway to see the dolphin show at Marineland. Marineland is the world’s first Oceanarium.  It’s not Sea World, but we both had come here as kids and it has a lot of history.   After that, Eric gave us a good pump out and I refilled the water tanks so we’d be ready for departure on Thursday.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018:

In the morning I scrubbed off our tannic stain from the bow with lemon juice. With some good help from Eric on the dock, we departed at 1003.  The forecast was showing SW winds of 9 to 17 knots and increasing after 1300.  Slack low tide for St. Augustine would be at 1407, so I was a little torn between arriving early to avoid higher winds or showing up at 1400 to avoid the current.  With the wind at our back we made the Crescent Beach Bridge by 1107.

DSC_0613  Matanzas Inlet from the ICW

DSC_0621  White Pelicans

Soon the tide was also helping move us along and at one point we hit 11 MPH!  That’s flying by trawler standards.  By 1215 we had docked into slip #42 (again) easing in bow first downwind and with the current.  Our dockhand, Mike provided excellent assistance.  The city-owned marina was torn up by the hurricane and they are in process of obtaining funding for a rebuild.  A large portion of the slips are in disarray and unusable.  We lucked out and got one with electric.

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Bridge of Lions                                                                  St. Augustine

Sabbatical was looking pretty awesome on the dock until the 75 foot Hatteras, “Corporate Approved” moored next to us.

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In comparison, she made our trawler look like a toy boat.  The owner and crew were very friendly and we shortly found out that he owns a marina (Donovan’s Shady Harbor Marina) on the Hudson River in New Baltimore, NY.  Around happy hour, they invited us and another couple who were just walking the dock aboard for a tour and libations.  Very friendly guys!  His marina closes each winter so that’s his personal boating season.  When the river freezes over I guess there’s just not much boat traffic.  They reopen around the first of April.  “Corporate Approved” will leave in the morning and running in the ocean, they’ll arrive in Charleston tomorrow night.  That’s a different kind of boating.  We left them and went to Cellar 6 for a nice dinner of pasta.

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This full moon is working the tides here in St. Augustine