Monday, May 30, 2011

Oriental to Abelmarle Sound

When you have an expectation of a place it is not usually what you get.  Oriental  was a lovely town with the friendliest people we have encountered but what we had expected didn't materialize.  So much for expectations.
By chance we met up with Jerry & Molly Grub, whom we had met in Marathon.  They have a condo in Oriental and graciously invited us to dinner with their friends and we had a wonderful night.  So the stop was way more than worth it. In the end people, not places are what it is all about.
 Oriental is known as the Sail Capital of North Carolina....more sailboats than residents.  So I guess we were a little out of our element, but hey, a boat is a boat! ......and we could get under the 43' bridge which most sailboats can't, so we got a nice place to anchor.  Well, kind of nice, it WAS Memorial Day weekend and it ended up being the Indianapolis 500 for small boats... but it was ok, very quiet at night which is all that counts.

We left at 7:30 Sunday for the trip up the Pungo River...what a never ending body of water that is!! Last night we anchored at the mouth of the Pungo Alligator River Canal.  A Corp of Engineers Cut for the ICW.  22 miles of NOTHING and 22 miles seems forever at 7 miles per hour, a grown woman asking are we there yet is not pretty!

We did see a Bald Eagle in a tree though.  That is a first for the trip.

After the canal we did another 20 miles in the Alligator River which is very wide and very desolate.  We had a few boats pass us (I almost said "we passed a few boats" but that would be wish full thinking.) but the traffic is very light at this time of year.  All the snowbirds returned in April.
We are now anchored in the Little Alligator River heading into the Abelmarle Sound. We went for a dinghy ride and it really reminded us of the St. Clair River Flats, a lot of marsh and cottages on the water only accessible by water and duck  blinds all over the place. 
Tomorrow we leave early for Elizabeth City and up the Dismal Swamp Route for the Chesapeake.  We are less than 100 miles from Norfolk (mile 0 on the ICW) now.  Yeah Us!!


Double Click for Slide Show

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another "Drive By"

We woke up at 5:30 to reveille (I think it was just that we were expecting bugles, since we were anchored in a Camp Lejeune training facility) raring to go.  Actually that was the earliest we have waken in a very long while and a little surprising since we were watched over by the recruits at the amphibious bivouac area (that is a technical term for tents) all night.   To make things clear...there were NO bugles, we just woke up with the Marines!
We watched a 60' (single handed) Hatteras fight with his anchor coming and going, just like we did.  The holding was great once you found the 'sweet spot' but they sure did not want to let go.  Gary's leg muscles were bulging trying to get that damn  Danforth anchor out.  What we really need is a pulpit with 2 anchor chutes and a double windlass, that would get the job done....unless we win the lotto...not happening!
We were headed for Beaufort a highly recommended stop, only to find that like Georgetown there is no where to anchor as the area cruisers once enjoyed has been taken over by personal mooring balls making for very little room.  The marina's downtown where $2.75 a foot and that is just not part of our program so we did a 'Drive By' . Most of these 'stops' are shopping and restaurants and there is only so much of that I can do. So we headed for Oriental.
It was a pretty long day 10 hours but it didn't seem that long for some reason.  We are currently anchored in Oriental in a nice spot where we had to position among crab pots but there is only 1 other little sail boat.  You have to go under a 48' bridge and most of the bigger sailboats can't make it under at that height.  Oriental's claim to fame is a friendly boating community with more sailboats than residents.  Tomorrow we shall go "to town" and see.
The only problem we've had in a while cropped up this week. All of a sudden Old Jennie (our new name for our aging generator) shut down.  Yup, she just QUIT.  It was a stomach dropping moment since generators require many, many 'boat units' ($$$$).  Gary thought it might be overheating  because the breaker blew.  He has done all the things men need to do (don't ask me what) and it worked but then it didn't work.  Now he has fiddled some more and it is working again.  So that is a BIG "We Shall See".

Camp Lejeune Sunrise 0600 5/25/11

At least they warn you!!

Crowded Beaufort  (that's Bo-fort, not the S.C. Bew-fort)

More Bo-Fort

Beaufort wild horses

Barges EVERYWHERE....lots of upkeep in these waters!

Barge mania....3 barges and lots of pipe...don't know what will become of this
but is would probably be very interesting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Picture Story

Little River Hwy Swing Bridge

Want to be noticed house

I think this is a case of failed GPS!

Horse riding trail near Little River Inlet N.C.

Closest we've been to an Atlantic inlet
Shallotte Inlet N.C. north of Myrtle Beach

Newest N.C. lighthouse...Oak Island cr. 1958
I got lucky and caught the intermittent light just right

Cape Fear River Ferry Car Ferry to Pleasure Island

Coming thru Snows Cut from Cape Fear River into Carolina Beach
whoa!....we were flying!

Carolina Beach Anchorage....solo again.

The "Mark Twain" depth finder at work.


Shoal 30 feet from our stern...hence the Mark Twain
Very useful ICW mile markers....N. C. ROCKS!

Pepto Bismol house the large green thing is a Parrott
they also had dolphins and an alligator painted on the house.  Weird!

The troops at Ft. LeJeune our current anchorage.  Mile Hammock Bay .
Amphibious ramp and training for the Marines...really neat although it
was so windy when we arrived it was hard to appreciate.  These guys came
in after we anchored.  They were quite friendly and no didn't point there guns at us!!

This off our bow ...they slowed way down by our stern....they still threw a big
wake but we are in their it is all ok.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Carolina Beach

Tonight we anchored in Carolina Beach  North Carolina in an anchorage that is known for its "iffy" holding.  We deployed our usual 2 anchors, 1 CQR and 1 Danforth.  After 2 hours we had drifted a little but not much.  The problem being a very populated area with iffy holding and a shoal behind us. 

Gary decided after 2 hours to try an oft forgotten measurement, the 'Mark Twain'.  Where he pulls this stuff from I don't know.  He has a very selective brain...he can't remember dates or places but engineering tools... he is ON IT. 

 He wasn't sure he remembered it correctly but looking on the net he was spot on.  Samuel Clemons took his pen name from a measurement technique. Tying a lead object to a string with tape marks every 5 feet was our Mark Twain....we found that the water off of the stern of the boat was still over 10 feet at low tide with the drift.

 We are now swinging and hoping we don't drift further into the shoal.  Alarms set for 11 and 2.  Last night was a marina worries....tonight a reminder of the road ahead.

 The web explanation was informative on how the name Mark Twain came about.  A bit of history for you.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Charleston to Little River S.C

I know it's probably hard keeping up with our travels, I know it is for me!  It is just very hard to leave things out and even harder to edit out pictures, but I'm trying.  
We anchored in Awendaw Creek about 30 miles from Charleston our first night, great spot.  Close enough to and removed enough from civilization.  The Dolphin were plentiful when we woke up the next morning and we saw 7 Alligators drifting along the shore on our leg to Georgetown...a supposed "must" stop on our trip.  Not so much!!  It was a big let down, no room to anchor in the very small harbor, the town pretty much shut down on Sunday and a big steel mill and paper mill withing spitting distance.  We did a quick drive by and headed upstream.  
The scenery started to change drastically once we left Winyah Bay and entered the Waccamaw River.  No more brown marshes, but lush green vegetation and the beginning of the Cypress swamps and dense forests along the waterway.  Very few houses and tons of wildlife. We decided to anchor in Bull Creek Sunday night and it was, what can I say bit of a scary experience.  When we got to the anchorage at 4:30,we found it to be secluded to the extreme we saw 4 or 5 local boats but they were all leaving after spending their day on the water.  The anchorage had rave reviews and as far as scenery and tranquility they were well deserved. BUT and this is a BIG BUT, we had seen the movie "Deliverance" and as soon as the sun went down we started to get leery of our choice.  There was no breeze whatsoever....NONE....and you could hear every little animal hiccup with the windows open.  They sure have some nothing I've heard before.  Then there was the small boat that suddenly appeared upstream, shut off their motor and started shining a light in the water and then the trees ( we still can't figure out what they were looking for in the trees) and I was spooked.  Needless to say I stayed awake for hours until I was sure they had left.  I really like nature and I love peaceful anchorages, but I now know that when I can't see anything else, no lights, no houses, no human elements, I like it best with another boat in know, safety in numbers.
Today we did a 180 back into the future.  The waterway through Myrtle Beach is a narrow 'ditch' that the Corp of Engineers cut through the land.  It starts out dark water in the Waccamaw and the further south you get into the cut the browner the water gets, but we saw Geese and Mallard Ducks.... that obviously didn't get the memo to fly north. There were lots of 65' bridges and a few smaller ones that we had to wait for an opening.  We've never been to Myrtle Beach so it was a hoot to see the cable car over the ICW that took the golfers from the beach side over to the golf course on the west bank.
We are at Dock Holidays Marina tonight north of Myrtle Beach and close to the S.C. border.  It was 40 miles today and 50 tomorrow to get to another anchorage. Tomorrow we'll cross into North Carolina and the anchorage we hope to get into is Carolina Beach State Park.  Close to the ocean so maybe we'll get a side trip in!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

FYI....  below the pictures and blog entry you will find 2 slideshows of Charleston.  Lots of pictures of the houses and gardens.  Enjoy or pass....your choice!

New Barge coming in

Moving upstream....YEAH!

Gazebo at White Point Gardens


Charleston Maritime Center Marina

Marina Office

Shrimp & Grits

Charleston is everything I thought it would be.  If you love architecture, old houses, gardens, and Southern food like I do, it is heaven.  There is just too much to see in 2 and a half days.  I think a stop on our way back south will be in order.  The one thing I did not know was that it is called the Holy City because of the churches.  They are magnificent in their simplicity.  The carved wood work and plaster work have been wonderfully preserved but since most are 150-200 years old the upkeep must be astronomical.  They have their own cemeteries on the church grounds with graves dating to the 1700's.  We learned from a docent in St. Phillips Episcopal Church that Charleston now has a school that is teaching the fine crafts of wood and plaster work.  They just had their first graduating class....5 students!

We have walked about 15 miles in the last 3 days.  Most of it in a 10 block radius.  Most of the tours do the 4 block main center but we also did the back streets and alleys...we saw a lot more than only doing a tour but our feet our crying mercy and we are ready to move on.

Yesterday was a gastronomical feast for us....we stopped at Jestine's for lunch,  (had to wait in line, but it was SO worth it) a very small little old time restaurant that all the locals recommended.  I had side dishes of macaroni and cheese, creamy and awesome, collards (yummy) and corn fritters with a pepper relish that were to die for!  Gary had meat loaf and fried okra...which he had to share with me... the meal was fantastic, inexpensive and it was the first time I had had sweet tea that didn't make me gag.  It was called 'Jestine 's Table Wine".

For dinner since it was our last day, we searched out a place that had Shrimp and Grits.  Dorian's mothers day gift to me...and I am sure she will be proud that I tried something new.  Lordy, were they good!  The grits were creamy and unlike any I had had before.  AWESOME!! I even have leftovers for was a two-fer.

The Captain is calling...time to cast off the lines, get a pump out and head North again.  I really can't say enough about Charleston.....everyone should do it once.


Charleston Stroll

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Noisy Nights & Yelping Knees

We are in the Charleston Maritime Center right in the heart of everything nautical. There is so much activity it makes my head spin.  There are huge container ships coming and going, cruise ships and as you can see dredges within spittin' distance.  
They are dredging the channel, into the shipping docks I guess, where they have shoaled and (unfortunately for us) it is right in front of our boat in the marina.  They worked all last night and then this morning I was able to take the fantastic picture of the bridge, because they moved further upstream.  We were so happy, but it was short lived.  They were back in front of us this afternoon.  I guess they are dredging a vertical path and they are moving back and forth horizontally.  Now it will be another night of ear plugs, closed windows, and air conditioning running to block the noise. 
We walked the back streets today and went to the Charleston Open Market.  Tomorrow we are going on a walking tour of Charleston.  Usually we do a self guided tour, but decided we would learn a lot more with someone who knows the history. Tomorrow it will be the Mansions, and Churches.  Lots to see. We had to cut it short today because our aging knees are crying 'uncle' from yesterdays trek through the Yorktown, todays walking and the thought of tomorrows.  So it will be rest and Motrin to the rescue.
Our View This Morning

Car Carrier (?) we think...leaving

  • Our view last night & I guess tonight too!  
  • And boy is it ever noisy!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This may give you a better indication of the tides.


Still huffing and puffing

Look hard and you can see what I was talking about...
They were coming right up to the back of the boat, almost IN the boat.

How It Is

Our journey is providing many new experiences.  Sitting here looking out on the marshes of South Carolina I wonder at the variances of nature.  A boat anchored further up the river from us when the tide was still receding and we could not see it.  Now that the tide is coming back in, the boat is totally visible.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the variables of the 8-9 foot tides, especially on a full moon which really affects the tides.

We only ran 4 hours today through some pretty 'skinny water'.  Some of you know that I am terrified of birds and only a few (Wendy& Mere) know that Sea Gulls are big and scary!  We must have been churning up some Sea Gull Caviar today because they were on us like stink on you know what!  I am ashamed to say that I had to retreat to the cabin.  I am not kidding it was Sea Gulls on crack....a scene out of 'The Birds' and then some.  I took pictures from a crack in the door of the cabin!

The other pictures are of the 'anchor dance'.  We have it down to a science, and unbelievably enough the hand signals are yelling!  I take the wheel and he handles (obviously ) the anchors.  I am really good at the forward..neutral.. spin the wheel..neutral.. reverse..neutral.. commands. It's much harder on the 'hauler' but so far it works. We are much more comfortable with 2 anchors with the currents and tides and only one is on a it goes.

That was yesterday.  Now for today.  We got to Charleston at 11:00 am.  Great trip, left at 7am.  Would have taken an hour in the car but smelling the roses is not a quick trip.  We were a little worried when we saw the big barge and tug right off the T-Dock turns out they are dredging the channel and we are now a lot more than worried.  This is a 24 hour operation right out our aft deck and it is some serious noise.  Tomorrow their will be a "discussion" with the dock master.  We may not see Charleston this trip after all,  but at least Gary got to see his ships.

The following slide shows are of Ships and Houses...your choice.

Beautiful Beaufort

Patriot's Point.... For The Boys

Monday, May 16, 2011

ICW Savannah & Hilton Head

The Weekend

We anchored in a wide spot off the ICW off of Little St. Simons Island on Friday night and ran below to get away from the flies.  Had an extremely unnerving experience just before hitting bed.  It sounded like in the movie 'Titanic' when the props where making that whoosh,whoosh,whoosh noise that resounded in the entire theatre, but our engines where shut down so what was that noise?  Well, lets just say the outgoing tides here are so strong that they were making our props free -wheel. They were turning like the house was on fire!  Scared the you know what out of me, but we woke up the next morning and were not in the middle of the Atlantic so it's just one of the 'new things' we deal with.

Saturday was rainy and overcast and that was a good thing as evidently the Green Headed Monsters don't like rain or clouds, they were nowhere to be seen. YES!!  We anchored in a creek on Sat. night because of a fore casted storm (didn't happen) and were ready to head out at 8am Sunday. 

Sunday was a very long (10 hour ) day and it seemed that we were winding around Savannah for hours. 
We anchored in a Cowen Creek and again the props were free-wheeling, but nowhere near the speed of Friday night and I wasn't as afraid of being sucked out into the Atlantic this time!!

 Observations for the day were: lots of small boats out on Sunday, the waterways really do wind back and forth for miles & miles, the tides are huge here, the docks must cost a fortune, and the houses are lovely.

We are now headed for Beaufort (pronounced Bew-fort in S.C.) for the day or maybe a few, still to be decided.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Highlight Of Our Trip So Far

We saw this Nuclear Sub coming up the channel as we were leaving Cumberland Island. The only word to describe it was AWESOME.  We were within 1000 yards and sat and watched the entire procession.  With the big tenders in the picture, and 4- 50' patrol boats, 4 -20' inflatables with  manned machine guns....well,  it was just the biggest production and impressive beyond belief. 
I've waited to post this not wanting to get in the papers as the person who started a national  security leak, my OCD in overdrive!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Green Headed Monsters

The numerous people we talked to about heading for the Chesapeake extolled its virtues and were quick to tell us about the possible heat in late July and August. " The trip up is great with many interesting cities to visit, yada, yada".  What they forgot to tell us (maybe it was a mental block, been through it, don't want to do it again mental block, who knows) was about the viscous and plentiful Green Head Marsh Flies.  These huge buggers began to appear when we left Cumberland Island but were just a nuisance. Tuesday night they became a little more bothersome as we got into more marshland but we still didn't understand the scope of our "problem".

We were waiting to head for Brunswick Landing to meet Wayne and Colleen on Thursday, so we spent all day Wednesday anchored  near the marsh (because there isn't much but marsh), not aware that we were in the midst of the breeding ground for these nasty buggers.   With their numbers multiplying we spent the day  inside the boat afraid to go out the door for fear of being swarmed.
Early Thursday morning we braved the bridge and headed for Brunswick.  A few more flies but once we hit civilization again they left us pretty much alone.  After docking we immediately started to wash the ash from the paper mill in Fernandina and 3 days of the Okefonokee Fire ash from the boat.  We were once again sparkling, well maybe twinkling, and then went grocery shopping.  I am sure that Wayne & Colleen, our chauffeur's for the day, were impressed with the way we could fill up the back of their Trail Blazer and we appreciated their efforts to make our visit to Brunswick enjoyable.

Since our budget dictated one marina night.. we cast off lines this afternoon and we were not even out of the river before we were boarded by the Coast Guard for a safety check ( just when we had started to devour our lunch), turns out they were the nicest guys and we
passed with flying colors, whew!

Jeckyl Sound was a sheet of glass and soon we turned and started up the Intracoastal again.  Back to marshland and you guessed it.....the green headed monsters, with a vengeance. War path, mating I don't know what but this is insane....
We can honestly say that we can NEVER, EVER, remember flies this bad.  Lets just say, we had 3 brand new fly swatters, 2 were crying "mercy" from overuse and their is a mass fly grave on our bridge!  It was ugly and our arms are tired.
Tomorrow we will abandon the bridge and try navigating from below.  

Sea Grass beard on our anchor rode

Cumberland Island Light now abandoned

Sydney Lanier Bridge....Brunswick, Ga.

We have come to think of this as "our train", it has been with us since Miami!

Wayne, Colleen, Jann, Gary ...our good friends from Charlotte, N.C.

Armed and ready...but as it turned out we were no match for the "Devil Flies"