May 7, 2016

May 4-7, 2016  Days 30-33  Spring 2016
Great Bridge Free Dock
Chesapeake, VA

We departed Dudley’s Marina in Swansboro early Wednesday morning and had a mix of clouds, light rain, and then very heavy rain much of the day.  We passed Morehead City at 11:00, noticing the busy port with ships unloading their cargo. By 1:35, we entered the Neuse River. Four hours later we were in the Pamlico River.  We continued on to our anchorage on the Pungo River, joining one other boat just as the sun was setting on this long day of cruising.

On Thursday we headed out again, with a very light rain or drizzle but very windy at 22 mph.  We spent two and a half hours on the narrow Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, which connects the two rivers. Then we entered the Alligator River, which was choppy with 2 ½ -3 foot waves.  We knew the Albemarle Sound would be worse.  After we went through the Alligator Bridge, we decided to travel a few more miles on the Sound and then find an anchorage near shore at Manns Harbor.  We were glad we made this decision, and so did seven other boats near us!  We also knew we were running low on fuel. Since we are only running on one engine, Bill was able to transfer fuel from the starboard engine to the port engine by using the generator.  He did this successfully at anchor.

On Friday we were greeted with calm seas and continued cruising on the Albemarle Sound until we reached the North River at 10:20.  We arrived at our destination, Coinjock Marina and docked with about 30 other boats! Eight of them were rafted together. Fortunately we were one of the first to arrive.  We had dinner at the Coinjock Restaurant at the Marina. It is known for its prime rib and Bill will attest to its   quality! He can also attest to the quantity – their small portion is 16 ounces. Can you imagine the 32 ounce size?  We had a wonderful meal and even treated ourselves to a dessert.

This morning we got some desperately needed fuel before leaving Coinjock and heading into the Virginia Cut.  We had another good travel day although we had some occasional showers. We had to time three bridges, but this worked out fine. We reached the third bridge (Great Bridge) at 3:00 and found space on the free wall just past the bridge.  By day’s end there were six boats docked on this wall. We had a quick dinner and then watched the Kentucky Derby!

May 3, 2016

April 29-May 3, 2016  Days 25-29  Spring 2016
Dudley’s Marina
Swansboro, NC

The adventure continues! Friday turned out to be a very long day. We departed our anchorage in Charleston and had a nice cruise past Isle of Palms at 10:00, and eventually past McClellanville, at 2:00. Dredging had taken place since we were last there, so we did not have to be concerned with low tide. At some point after we passed McClellanville, we spotted an alligator swimming at top speed across the ICW. We had never seen one move so fast and could not get a picture.

The ICW takes a 90 degree left turn to join the Waccamaw River. Just prior to this, we heard a knocking sound coming from the starboard side.  Joyce stayed at the helm while Bill went down to check it out. We had a shaft and rudder issue!  We were only able to cruise at 4.8 mph to avoid the knocking sound. We called a marina in Georgetown but they were full. One of their workers did suggest we call a diver and have him remove the prop.  We continued on at our very slow speed, to an anchorage at Butler Island at 7:30pm!  Bill decided to tie down the shaft with heavy rope to keep it from moving and to enable us to travel at a normal speed the next day.

We got an early start on Saturday and continued north on the Waccamaw River.  The rope that was on the shaft slipped and we had to anchor in the middle of the river so Bill could re-tie it.

Joyce stood guard at the helm, but only one boat passed us. We were soon on our way again.  We decided to stop at Bucksport Marina in Conway, SC to get fuel since their price was good and they had a floating dock we could get into easily on one engine.

We made a reservation to go into Barefoot Marina that afternoon. They also recommended a diver who was waiting for us when arrived at 1:45.  He was going to remove the prop, but when he emerged from the water, he was hauling up about 100 ft. of 1 ½ inch stainless steel cable that we had been dragging!  The drama never seems to end!  After an hour passed he could not get the prop off, so ultimately we so we decided to continue cruising with the shaft tied down the rest of the way home.

We departed Barefoot late Sunday morning and cruised to Carolina Beach, NC to an anchorage we have used in the past.  On the way we passed Southport and then entered the Cape Fear River, which did not live up to its name and stayed calm for us!  We arrived at our anchorage at 6:45 pm. We are glad for late sunsets!

We left Carolina Beach on Monday at 7:15, knowing we needed to time four bridges today. Our first was Wrightsville Beach Bridge which only opens on the hour. We made the 9:00 opening with no problem.  We arrived at the Figure Eight Island Bridge at 9:52 and at low tide, we were able to get under it without an opening.  We made the Surf City Bridge opening at 12:00 and the Onslow Bridge opening at 2:30.  A successful day!  

We arrived at Dudley’s Marina in Swansboro, NC at 4:00, happy to be tied up after our long day.  Our Looper friends, Tom & Melesia live nearby and picked us up at 6:00. We went to their lovely home for dinner and had a very enjoyable evening. Tom took us to a grocery store on the way back to pick up a few items.  Shortly after we returned Joyce heard scraping noises on the starboard side.  After ruling out a few things, Bill decided it was shrimp eating off the bottom of the boat. Our neighbors on the boat in front of us confirmed this and were having the same experience! 

The plan was to depart this morning (Tuesday, May 3) but we woke to warnings of strong storms.  We decided to stay another day, relax, and get some things done on the inside.  We had our boating neighbors over for a visit and enjoying sharing stories with them.

We will head out tomorrow and update the blog as soon as we can. We are on a rather tight deadline to get our boat to Portsmouth, VA to get repairs started.

Sunset on Butler Island

Sunrise on Butler Island!
We were dragging this cable!!

April 28, 2016

April 26-28, 2016  Days 22-24  Spring 2016
At anchor in front of the Battery
Charleston, SC

There seems to be a pattern here. We did try to leave on Tuesday. Just as we were ready to cast off, we saw more smoke coming out of the starboard exhaust. So, we called the mechanic back and decided to replace all remaining injectors. They had to be ordered so we took the courtesy car once again and drove 40 minutes each way to pick them up on Wednesday.  By late Wednesday afternoon, the work was complete and the engine sounded good.

So, we cast off again this morning. As soon as we were free from the dock the starboard engine stalled out.  We made the decision then to keep going and just run on the port engine.  When we return to Virginia we will have it looked at by CAT mechanics to get to the source of the problem. We had hoped it was the injectors but it is apparently more than that.

We did have a calm travel day which was good. We had rain the first two hours, but it was not a problem.  We decided to go all the way to Charleston and anchor. We are happy to be anchored across from the Battery, lined with its antebellum homes.  We just beat a thunderstorm and were anchored before the rain started. There were huge threatening clouds!
We are anchored across from the Battery

Storm clouds at anchor!

We had dinner onboard and are relaxing for the evening – post storm and post boating concerns!

April 25, 2016

April 22-25, 2016  Days 18-21  Spring 2016
Port Royal Landing Marina
Port Royal, SC

Our one or two day intended stay at Port Royal turned into five days!  We decided to have another mechanic look at our starboard engine.  This was done on Friday and we needed to have one more fuel injector replaced.  Of course it had to be ordered and that spanned th
Dinner with Bill & Darlene at Plum's
e weekend.  So, we took the courtesy car this morning and drove to a Caterpillar supply company and picked it up. We also picked up fuel and air filters at Caterpillar.  Our mechanic met us afterwards and installed everything promptly. The engine ran smoothly and there was no smoke in the exhaust. 
The Dragon Boat team!

In the meantime, we had a wonderful visit with Darlene and Bill, old friends from our Ohio neighborhood and church who now live in nearby Bluffton. They came to our boat Sunday afternoon for a nice visit. Then we drove to Beaufort for a nice seafood dinner at the popular Plum’s restaurant.

Joyce also took time to finish all provisioning and got a haircut on the weekend. We have greatly appreciated having access to a courtesy car!

We decided to go out for dinner again this evening – this was just a walk to the end of our dock. The Back Porch Grille sits on the marina’s property. We had a nice leisurely meal on their deck, enjoying the view.  On the way back to the boat we saw a Dragon Boat with a crew of 20 people leave our dock. The crew is made of primarily of cancer survivors who row three times a week. They compete with other dragon boats throughout the state! How impressive!

The boat is clean, another injector and filters have been replaced, and we are ready to depart in the morning.  We will head back to an anchorage at Church’s Creek, south of Charleston that we have used several times.

April 22, 2016

April 18-21, 2016  Days 14-17  Spring 2016
Port Royal Landing Marina
Port Royal, SC

Monday was a long, but necessary travel day on the ICW through northern Florida, passing by Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach. By 1:30, we were in Georgia!

We passed Cumberland Island, where we usually anchor, but pushed on farther this time. We reached St. Andrews Sound at 4:00. The waves weren’t too bad but the ocean had not calmed down yet from recent high winds.

Luckily, Brunswick Landing Marina (Brunswick, GA) was still open at 6pm, (thanks to two other late arrivals) so we were able to dock there at the end of an eleven hour day.
Sunset on the Crescent River in Georgia

Knot Too Big at anchor on Crescent River

We met three other Loopers on Tuesday morning and after getting fuel, we departed with Ken and Donna on Knot Too Big.  This was a day to watch the tides in Georgia. We knew we would arrive at the Little Mud River at low tide, so we stopped at 1:30 to anchor. Knot Too Big rafted to us and we had a nice visit with them.  By 3:45, we resumed our travel and continued on through the spots that now had enough water. We found a peaceful anchorage in the Crescent River where we spent the night.

We got another early start on Wednesday and continued north. More timing was needed to get through Hell’s Gate, but we did fine. Soon we were passing small towns, such as Isle of Hope and Thunderbolt, south of Savannah.  By 3:30 we entered South Carolina, feeling good about our progress.  We anchored in Bull Creek, by Bull Island (near Hilton Head) with Knot Too Big, rafting together again.  We had a very nice shared dinner of chicken, rice, salad, and bread and enjoyed the company!  We have anchored here many times in the past, so it was good to share it with others

On Thursday we said goodbye as they planned to go further. We just took a 3 hour cruise to Port Royal Landing, arriving at 11:15.  Joyce took the courtesy car to Publix to do substantial provisioning. Bill cleaned the boat while she was gone.  The salt accumulation was terrible!

We had a nice dinner on board and relaxed after our busy day. We will stay here at Port Royal on Friday as well.

April 17, 2016

April 15-17, 2016  Days 11-13  Spring 2016
At anchor
“Mile 769” north of St. Augustine, FL

We spent Friday and Saturday in Daytona Beach for a total of six days!  The mechanic installed the new fuel injector Friday morning.  However, we still could not leave because of the wind.  Staying in port also gave us wifi access and Bill needed to do the taxes on Friday. Thank goodness that is all done!   Saturday was much the same with high winds so again, we stayed. Oh, and the cat came back for another visit - this time she came down into the salon!

We finally left Daytona Beach this morning (Sunday) and headed north on the ICW.  The winds were ok for a while and then picked up in mid-afternoon, creating whitecaps on the water.  We handled it ok. We were badly waked by a sport fisher boat however! Some boaters are rude and careless and he would fit in these categories!  The winds probably kept some boaters off the water even though it was Sunday in Florida!

We passed Ormond Beach, Palm Coast, and St. Augustine today.  We had to have three bridges open for us on our request.  We were able to get under the Bridge of Lions at St. Augustine because it was low tide. That bridge only opens on the hour and half hour. 

We also passed the St. Augustine Inlet and were amazed at the breakers on the ocean. No one would have wanted to travel off shore today!

We reached our anchorage at 3:10 and joined two sailboats who got here first. Even with the wind, we are well protected by trees.  We called our daughter to wish her a happy birthday, then relaxed with wine and cheese before having dinner.

We will try to leave at sunrise tomorrow and travel a long distance. Our goal is Georgia!

April 14, 2016

April 12-14, 2016  Days 8-10  Spring 2016
Daytona Marina & Boat Works
Daytona Beach, FL

The best of plans… When we left our anchorage at Cocoa on Tuesday morning, we intended to travel to New Smyrna. However, our port engine was running rough and we decided to go all the way to Daytona Beach to have it looked at.  We arrived at 4:30, glad to be docked after a day of uncertainty!

We had a diesel mechanic diagnose the problem: an injector, which Bill suspected as well.  We will get a new injector installed tomorrow, and are very happy it was nothing more serious.  Now we just have to wait for a weather window to continue our trip north. Winds, rain, and thunderstorms are in the forecast through Saturday. So we will stay put!

We took a nice walk today and went over to Halifax Harbor Marina. We were there last spring for an MTOA rendezvous.  Our friends, Ann and Ken on M/V Charis had just arrived and we visited with them for a while on their boat.
Loved the relaxed golden retriever out sailing today

An unexpected guest!
Apparently this cat visits everyone's boat!
We got back to our own boat before the rain began. We had dinner on board and just relaxed for the evening.
Sunset at Cocoa