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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Outer Banks, Ocracoke

We left Beaufort, NC early (6:30am)so as to catch the right tide and then ended up having to wait 15 minutes for the 8:00am bridge to open. It really didn’t cost us any time and we were quickly sailing up Adams Creek to Pamlico Sound. Once we hit Pamlico Sound it was sails up and we were on the move hitting 8.6 knots at times. The channel leading into Silver Lake at Ocracoke has been dredged since last fall when we got stuck and were pulled off a sand bar, but Gordon took it very slow just in case we should bump!! We had the Cedar Island Ferry waiting for us to clear the channel before he went on his way. (I know the captain was cursing sailboats the rest of the evening.) It was about 5:30 and we had some time before sunset so I washed down the decks and sides of the boat while Gordon checked us in. We took Schooner on what was supposed to be a long walk, but it turned out to be very short when mosquitoes attacked us all. Poor Schooner was jumping, sitting, doing circles just to get away from the biting! I can’t remember being attacked so badly in a short period of time!! So we quickly returned to the comfort of the boat and AC. I did go topside to catch some great pictures of the sunset…it was spectacular lasi night!

Neither Gordon nor I wanted to going in the morning, we didn’t sleep all that well. It seems that if I wasn’t scratching, Gordon or Schooner were!! Seems that we brought some of the mosquitoes in and they continued biting all night. Only the ones on the face and neck are itching now. It was about 10 before we ventured out (after showers in citronella soap and activating our OFF clip-on), on our bikes to see what was new and different in Ocracoke. One thing for sure is that not much changes on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There were a few more shops and gift stores open and 2 new restaurants. We checked out the lighthouse again, they are about to start renovations on the inside and will be closed after this summer season ends. We rode out RT 12 and went to Jason’s Deli and Pizza for lunch. I had the special for the day; a fried flounder with pepper cheese sandwich and Gordon had an Uncle Buncle; a broiled chicken breast with sliced ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes. onion and banana peppers. Both were excellent and the recommendation from a storekeeper was right on!! She had told us it was a locals place to eat and sure enough we didn’t recognize any tourists but us. After a bit more shopping we headed back to the boat and spent the rest of the evening chillin in the AC.

Gordon wants to leave early (around 7am) in the morning; we have a long sail up Pamlico Sound to Roanoke Island and Manteo.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Today is Sunday, the 28th of June. Walter and Linda came by early in the morning and took us out for breakfast. We went to a local hangout in Morehead City, called the Captain’s Table, where the service was quick, the breakfast was served hot and the food was pretty darn good! After breakfast, we ran some errands, getting batteries, some sundries and the obligatory trip to West Marine and the hardware store (Hey! It’s a boat!)

Once our mutual errand running was finished, we all went over to Atlantic Beach, which is a family oriented town for people who want to spend their vacation playing with the kids and relaxing on the beach. It was like stepping back in time to the 1950’s. Small, single-level, rental properties and doublewide trailer parks make up the most of the residential area, while a distinct lack of big condos and towering apartments make for a great stretch of public beach that’s accessible to the tourists.

From Atlantic Beach, it was off to Ft. Macon, a beautiful, year-around State park that charges NO admission. The park is the site of a fully restored 18th century fort that guarded the Beaufort Inlet, protecting the area from naval attacks.

Named after U.S. Senator from the State of North Carolina, Nathaniel Macon, Fort Macon was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Construction began in 1826 and was completed in December 1834, at a total cost of $463,790. At the beginning of the Civil War, North Carolina seized the fort from Union forces. The fort was later attacked in 1862, and it fell back into Union hands. For the duration of the war, the fort was a coaling station for navy ships. Often an ordnance sergeant acting as a caretaker was the only person stationed at the fort.

Fort Macon was a federal prison from 1867 to 1876, garrisoned during the Spanish-American War and closed in 1903. Congress sold the fort in 1923 to the state, making it the second NC state park. At the outbreak of World War II, the US Army leased the park from the state and actively manned the old fort with Coast Artillery troops to protect a number of important nearby facilities. The fort was occupied from December 1941, to November 1944. On October 1, 1946, the Army returned the fort and the park to the state.

Since then, the Fort has been available to the public with beautifully restored buildings and grounds. The self-guided tour gives a very clear picture of what it must have been like to be stationed at Fort Macon during various periods in its service as a fort of both the United and Confederate States. Needless to say, we had a great time exploring the fort.

With the tour of the fort complete, it was time to go back to Beaufort and to the boat. Also, Linda had to go to work, Walter had a boat to show and Kim and I had things to do to ready the boat for our departure in the morning. A late supper at the Dock House Restaurant, rounded out the day and then it was off to La-La-Land to get a good night’s sleep, so we’d be sharp tomorrow morning.

Friday, June 26, 2009


What a strange time we live in! We’re still in Beaufort, NC, enjoying the weather and visiting with our friends, Walter and Linda Moffitt. Walter’s a yacht broker and represents a company called World Class Yachts in the Carolinas (if you need a boat, Walter’s the guy to see.) He also sold us our boat, Current Jumper, back in ’06 and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Anyway, it’s been very relaxing here and we’ve had a great time walking about the town and seeing the sights. Schooner likes it here too, as there is a lot of grass and, because of the large number of dogs, lots of good smells. But, there is one thing going on that seems to overshadow everything else.

As I mentioned in our last post, Michael Jackson died on Thursday. Now I don’t want to take anything away from him, because, let’s face it, he was a great showman. Heck, even I liked “Thriller.” But quite frankly, this thing is getting ridiculous. Even FOX News suspended all regular programming and reported on nothing but the life of M.J., from the time they announced his death at 4:00pm EST, until 6:00 am Friday. All of the networks are consumed with following M.J.'s life and the circumstances surrounding his death (DRUGS, ya’ think it might be DRUGS?) Quite frankly, if I wasn’t in a state that gravitates around Country Music, the national coverage would be overwhelming and might drive me over the edge!

To put it in perspective, now that 24 hours have passed since the Jackson announcement, there were two other persons of note who passed on this week:

One was Ed McMahon, a great entertainer. Prior to his stage accomplishments and years on the “Tonight Show”, he was a distinguished Marine Corps fighter pilot during WWII and flew unarmed OE-1 Bird Dogs on 85 tactical air control and artillery spotting missions in Korea. Ed earned six Air Medals and attained the rank of Colonel before retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve Force in 1966. Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Ed was commissioned by the California Air National Guard as a Brigadier General.

Another person who’s death was overshadowed by Jackson’s was Farrah Fawcett. After a long career in Hollywood as an actress, not the least of which was her stint on “Charlie’s Angle’s,” she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She became an activist for cancer treatment and devoted her last remaining years to encouraging people to seek treatment. She documented her plight on film and used it to encourage others to stay positive and upbeat, despite their diagnosis and suffering.

So, we have an American War Hero, an Award Winning Actress and Cancer Treatment Advocate and a person best noted for his eccentric lifestyle that included, sleeping with a chimpanzee, living in a carnival-like atmosphere at Neverland, his fascination with Peter Pan, and his numerous masks and costumes (He also admitted to finding pleasure sleeping with young boys and paying out millions of dollars in settlements to the families of these boys, despite being acquitted by a court on one allegation of sexual molestation) who died this week.

Of these three deceased notables, for which one did the House of Representatives declare a moment of silence today (June 26, 2009)? Which of the above’s families received a personal note of condolence from President Obama?

Well let me give you a hint folks, it wasn't the first two on the list. What a strange, strange time we live in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


It’s 0600 (6:00am) Thursday morning, and the damn alarm clock is going off and I can’t find the Off-Switch! I finally get my hands wrapped around the stupid clock and manage to choke off it’s obnoxious beeping. It takes a minute to clear my head, as it seems that I’d just fallen asleep, but I slowly realize that it’s time to get up, walk the dog and get on the water towards Beaufort (pronounced Bō-fǝrt), NC at the 7:45am slack tide.

Complete Pre-sailing Check list: Dog walked; Quick shower taken; Quick breakfast (bagel); Loose items stored away; Drawers and cabinets locked; Check engine: Oil level & Coolant Level; Warm-up Electronics: Chart-Plotter, GPS, Radar and Radio; Start main engine; Stop and Wait for Tide. (Well, that went well!)

As the tide went slack and the current came to a stall, we cast off our lines from the dock at the Beach House Marina and motored out into the ICW. A quick northerly turn at the end of the marina fairway and we were on our way to Beaufort.

Leaving on a slack, low tide was critical to a safe transit of this section of the waterway. The ICW, from Sneads Ferry, NC through Onslow Beach, U.S. Marine Base Camp Lejeune, is in bad shape do to a lack of dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. As a result thereof, the waterway has shoaled in this area and, even though we only draw 5 feet, it’s only navigable at near high tide. By leaving Surf City when we did, we’ll be passing through this area within a one-hour window of its high tide.

The trip was, by-and-large, uneventful. Our timing was perfect, so we made uninterrupted progress up the waterway, broken only by the occasional drawbridge and the sight of Osprey feeding their young, Pelicans diving for fish and the never ending relay of Dolphin (the mammal type) swimming along side the boat, catching a free ride in our wake.

The last leg of the trip was Bogue Sound, a 23-mile by 2-mile shallow bay that extends from Swansboro Inlet to Beaufort Inlet. The Sound is extremely shallow; less than 5 feet over 75% of its area. Because of this, any wind over 10 or 12 knots can quickly pile up the water, creating waves and turbulence that seems to come from all directions. This can make for a really miserable ride (trust us, we’ve been there!)

Today, however, it was a piece of cake. The wind was blowing at 8 to 10 knots and from the shore to the sea. So, there was hardly any effect on the water and the waves and surge stayed under a foot in height. We settled in and really enjoyed the last three hours of our trip and were soon in Beaufort Harbor.

Beaufort, NC, has long been hailed as the "Gateway to the Caribbean." Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, Beaufort is a port of departure for many boats sailing to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. The town was developed during colonial times, as a deep-water port to receive European wares and spices from the islands. Things have changed, however, and most of the deep-water trade is now plied in neighboring Morehead City, leaving Beaufort a rustic, yet bustling, waterside community.

Today, most of Beaufort's historic homes, gardens and commercial buildings have been restored. Ever popular with the tourists, Beaufort’s primary attractions are still the Public Park, Town Docks and anchorage along the waterfront. Here, landlubbers can get up close to all manner of power and sailing vessels, book passage on a harbor cruise or day-sailing adventure or stroll the myriad shops and restaurants that line the streets. With the lure of treasure, from the recently uncovered remains of Black Beard's ship, Beaufort is the perfect city in which to spend a few days, dreaming of sailing the high seas, battling pirates and having the greatest adventure.

We tied up at the town dock around 3:00pm and were snug in our slip, with electricity and water, by 3:30. Going below, I turned on the radio, only to find out that Michael Jackson had been taken to the hospital suffering cardiac arrest. Then, 30 minutes later, the worst news of all came; he was dead! Oh, how can life on this planet continue without the self-proclaimed King of Pop? Well….I guess we have no choice but to find out! (Stay tuned for more on this subject.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Goodbye Charleston

So, we left Charleston at 7:45am on Tuesday and it was a beautiful morning…a cool 78º with a slight wind. As we started out the channel, Gordon made the decision to go outside and head up north. Outside is the Atlantic Ocean and our next stop would be the Wilmington Inlet, about 154 miles north. We intended to stop at Southport, NC, which is just inside the inlet on the ICW. However, we made great time and entered the inlet at 5:30am and decided to continue on in the ICW to Top Sail Beach, NC. It was a good night for sailing and Gordon and I took turns at sleeping, although I think I got more than he did. To backtrack a bit… we were about 2 hours from Charleston when Gordon realized he had left our 19 dozen shrimp there in the Marina freezer. L A phone call to Jeff and we were assured that he would enjoy it for us!! I hope we find another shrimp boat up the way, so we can get more.

You forget how boring the ICW can be and I was able to read a complete Janet Evanovich smut book!! Now I have to wait to get #14 in paperback! I did take some pictures of a mother Osprey in one of the many nests located on the channel markers. I must say she was none to happy with the boat coming so close to her and the nest. We had watched her try and run 2 pelicans off and, as we waited on the bridge, Gordon was finally able to scare them away with our boat! We must have looked pretty crazy chasing 2 pelicans with a 45” boat but we did it!!

We arrived in Top Sail Beach, Surf City, at 3:30pm and Schooner even jumped ship before we were completely tied up like she knew the place to go potty… it had been over 32 hours even though she had used her pup head, she wanted GRASS!! After showers to cool down, it was off to town so I could get a much- needed haircut. I had found a great shop our last trip through and she had cut my hair as perfect as could be done. My last haircut was before EASTER and when I say cut, I would not be exaggerating to say it was only an inch long on the top of my head!! My hair was so shocked; it took weeks for it to lay down. It feels soooo good to get a good haircut I will make this a permanent stop for one from now on!! We had an early dinner…Hardee’s for Gordon and Domino’s for me, and crashed in the AC!! It’s off to Beaufort, NC in the morning!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot Charleston!!

We are in Charleston and have been staying close to the boat. It seems to pour down rain at 11am and again at 4:30pm and if it’s a really bad day it will rain again at 11pm. And when it hasn’t been raining it has been HOT!!! The heat index for the weekend was at 112º. I like it hot but this is ridiculous!!

When we still had a car, we made the rounds to Wal-Mart, Sam’s, West Marine, Melvin’s (the best BBQ around and eat your heart out Uncle Guy), and Camping World, (to fill the Propane tanks that have been leaking) Jason’s Deli, and the Outlet Mall for undies!! We can pick up the last minute items from Harris-Teeter on the bikes. We should be ready for travel with a full fridge and freezer!!

The Marina has had a constant change in boats, coming and going, and weddings, retirement parties and private gatherings actively taking place around the marina. Unfortunately we haven’t been invited to any (nor have we crashed any) of the going ons!! Gordon was able to score us some more Jumbo fresh shrimp right off “Lady Eva”. She came in after making a couple passes outside the Harbor with a boatload of shrimp. They needed ice to cool it down while they sorted and graded the catch. There is nothing like eating shrimp within hours of it being caught. We had 4 dozen for dinner (we had help from Jeff) and froze another 19 dozen to take with us, all for $35!!

Gordon was able to get his hands dirty and work on another sailboat!! Can you believe he had to rescue an Army Master Sergeant?? They were having electrical problems and we had a charger to boost their battery until Gordon could track down the problem. Marine to the rescue!!! After that, we had a guy from Seattle (Paul) come and look at the boat. Gordon gave him a first class tour, but no offer was put on the table!

We are leaving on Tuesday…actually we are being kicked out of the Maritime Center along with all the other boats to make room for the TALL SHIPS and the Charleston Harborfest. I wish there was a place for us to stay, but we have enjoyed seeing some of the ships that have been coming in early. SV Kruzenshtern came in from Bermuda today with a broken foremast. They hit some really bad storms on the way in. We were able to get some pretty good pictures of it, I think!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moving Day

So, on Wednesday, Gordon picked up a U-Haul 22’ truck and we went to Erika’s storage unit and started loading it up (it was only 91º out at 10am.) I’m used to heat but it as humid as well! It took us about 3 hours to load everything up; how does one get so much stuff in such a short period of time? Oh yea, mom and dad moved on a boat!! We then picked up Killian and Dango from the vets, where they had been staying since Monday, before hitting the road. I forgot, did I mention how wet and tired I was and we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us to get back to Atlanta?? And did I tell you how much I hate to follow a big ass truck going 55mph for those 4 hours and in the rain to boot??? Said and done!! We got everyone and everything to Kennesaw, which Erika will call home for a while, as she puts her life back together (although there is that darn truck that still needs emptying!!)

This morning we got up and took Erika’s belongings to a storage place that Andie had found close to the house and after another 3 hours of sweating, lifting, toting, stacking (and did I say sweating???) we had the truck and car unloaded. I know Erika and Andie helped us when we moved… but darn, Gordon and I are getting OLD and we feel it!! Pack, load, unload, rearrange, load and unload over the course of 5 days can take a toll on you when you usually sit on a boat, soak up sun, read, eat and walk the dog for a living!! LOL By the way, it is hot when you don’t have a sea breeze!!

We did get to spend the rest of the day with family and spoil Havyn and Emeryn a bit. Havyn got a train table and loves her Thomas the Train set. Unfortunately, Andie’s house isn’t set up for 5 adults, 2 babies, and 4 dogs (3 over 50lbs) so we will be heading back to Charleston in the morning. We leave Erika in Andie's and Jeremy’s hands to nurse her back to health mentally and physically. She has had alot to digest in a little over a week; divorce, kicked out of a home, surgery, and moving. Erika is a strong woman and when she realizes she didn’t do anything wrong and has nothing to be embarrassed about, she will bounce back as a healthy, smarter, and stronger woman…world watch out!!

Hey Perry, your wish might come true…maybe there is hope!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009


We were in Charleston only a few days and another bike accident (minor scrapes and stove thumb) before heading to Birmingham, via Kennesaw, on Friday. Gordon was back with a rental car and we were on the road before noon. The drive was uneventful, although Gordon has more trouble driving than steering without his chart plotter (GPS.) We were almost to Spartanburg before we realized he missed the turn-off back in Columbia…it only added about an hour to the drive, as we drove back south into Atlanta on I-85 and back north on I-75. Once there, Havyn greeted us happily, with “Nana & Poppa are here”!! We took everyone to dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant, Ippolito’s, a must try if ever in the area. They have 5 or 6 locations in the Atlanta area (www.ippolitos.net).

On Saturday morning, it was hard to leave …Havyn has become such a sweetie, so talkative and fun to be around, but we needed to get to Birmingham to meet up with Erika. After two hours on the road getting there, we were moving all of Erika’s belongings out of her in-laws home. She and Jeremy have been living there the past 9 months and Jeremy took a job back in Mobile about 3 months ago and left Erika there!! Well, his parents kicked her out and Jeremy asked for a divorce all in the same week she was scheduled for surgery! So mom and dad to the rescue… we moved almost all of her belongings to storage on Saturday and Sunday and we rearranged it!

Monday morning, we were at UAB Medical Center at 5:15 am. Erika had surgery to remove 2 tumors and lymph nodes located under her thyroid. She is doing very well and the outlook is very good and we hope that there is no cancer involved. She can’t talk very well, but I’m sure that will come back strong as ever!! She is resting comfortably in our motel room. Meanwhile, Gordon and I took advantage of being in Birmingham and checked out the sights of the area.

Birmingham is loaded with tons of history. There is the Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park, commemorating the spirit and drama of individuals who confronted racial discrimination. Both are beside the Historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where 4 girls were killed by a bomb. I was in 3rd or 4th grade when this happened (in Ohio) and really didn’t remember this event until high school American History and even then it was brushed over so this was a great learning experience for me. I just hope this park isn’t or won’t be used to perpetrate a sense of guilt on a generation who had nothing to do with segregation.

From there, we went to Vulcan Park. This is a park with a big (56’) statue of a Vulcan made for the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1904. It is the world’s largest cast iron statue and sits atop Red Mountain and has spectacular views of Birmingham. It is a symbol of Birmingham’s iron and steel industry, the first in the South, and we liken it to climbing a lighthouse. Birmingham also has a great kids museum, the McWane Science Center, the Alabama Theatre, one of the last movie palaces, the Peanut Depot, where you can stop by for hot peanuts. They even have the Quinlan Castle, not a real castle, of course, but a former apartment building built to look like one. So enjoy our tour of Birmingham
…more work slated for tomorrow!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back Home in Charleston

We left Beaufort dock at the butt crack of dawn (5:55am) so we could make the 6:00am opening, which we did! Schooner and I promptly went back down to our warm bed and slept until 10:00am. It’s amazing how well I sleep with the engine noise. Gordon had been battling the deer flies most of the morning and was appreciative to have me up top to kill them for a while. We kill time listening to Fox News on Sirrus Satellite or when possible Neal Boortz on AM radio. It kills the time and gives you a laugh now and then!!

It is definitely a long ride and not much to see although we did catch sight of manatee, many dolphins, ducks, geese, herons, osprey and an eagle. It was a good day however it was hot sitting under the Bimini. And too hot to sit out in the sun!! We arrived at the last drawbridge at 2:00pm and once through it we had almost 2 hours to kill before we could enter the marina at slack tide. The Charleston Maritime Center is officially our home of record (although we rarely spend more than a couple weeks a year here) and other than being a little difficult to get in and out it is a wonderful spot to stay here in Charleston if you are on a boat. After Jeff Davis got us tied up temporally, it was off to the grass for Schooner and the shower for Gordon and I.

This morning we got up and moved into our permanent spot and left the boat to ride to the post office and our mailbox. There was plenty to pick up and thank you Larry and Pam for the wonderful books…I can’t wait for the chance to put them to use!! You know how we love to find great places to EAT!!! On our way back to the boat, we stopped at MOE”S for a case of indigestion. Also, we stopped at the park to walk off lunch and to check out “Art in the Park”, something new for Charleston tourists! It was mostly paintings of the local area and some modern stuff I don’t understand!

OK, do you all remember when I talked about how much bike riding we had done without any accidents? Then Gordon had his little mishap with the palm tree!! Well, I haven’t told you everything… About 3 weeks ago, I was waiting for the cross walk light in Daytona, and when I had the right away I started across the street when this car ran the light. No, I wasn’t hit, but I did through myself over the handlebars stopping. That resulted in some major road rash to the elbow and knee and some hurt pride. Two days later we were riding in the waterfront part with Schooner when she decided to cross my path after one of her lizards. This time I laid the bike down in the grass, but ended up falling right on the handlebar ribs first!! It only hurts to laugh now, but I was really sore for 3 weeks and still have bruises to show for it! Schooner didn’t catch her lizard either. So today …I crashed again!!! This time both hands are skinned, my left knee is skinned and has a big bruise developing and I really thought for a while I had broken my left wrist…I am moving it just fine now and it isn’t swelling, but it sure is sore.
A lot of my pain comes from telling all of you this and Sonia I still won’t wear a helmet, I survived childhood without one and had worse wrecks than these last three! I also believe I’m done now that I have had my third accident…you know things come in threes!! LOL

We were welcomed back to the boat by Jeff, who got us some fresh, and I mean fresh, shrimp right off a boat who had come in for ice. Gordon has them cleaned as I write and we will now have dinner!!!