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Friday, July 31, 2009


As I said yesterday, I’ve always loved our National Anthem, even though it’s words are difficult to sing and its tune borderline impossible. Nothing, and I mean nothing, irritates me so much as to hear someone sing the National Anthem and botch it, add notes to it or sing it like a funeral dirge. After hearing it sung or played correctly, however, the Anthem rolls over and over in my mind for hours, as I mentally play the melodies and harmonies that make up this wonderful song. But our tour of Fort McHenry reminded me of how little the vast majority of Americans know about their National Anthem or its origins.

My knowledge of the “National Anthem of the United States of America” came about quite by accident. It began when I was in the second or third grade of elementary school and had asked my Dad one night where Donzerly was. My Dad, who had emigrated from England and become a naturalized U.S. citizen, asked me what the bloody hell I was talking about. I said something to the effect of, “You know, that town they sing about in the National Anthem. The one with the lights.” I remember a lot of laughing, followed by my mother, who’s parents spoke more German than English, getting out the old Encyclopedia Britannica and together, we learned about the National Anthem, it’s author and the circumstances under which it was written. It is this story that I’d like to share with you and I hope you’ll take a moment to read it.

In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain, primarily over 'freedom of the high seas.' We were in the right and for two years, held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. At the time, Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.

At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” However, the weight of the British navy eventually beat down our ships. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.

Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a 'three-pronged' attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain, toward New York, and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the Mid-Atlantic States and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, would be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.

The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D.C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort. On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to 'negotiate' his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the 'bombardment' of Fort McHenry was about to start.

As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting, and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.

As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, “Can you see the flag?” After it was all finished, Key wrote a four-verse poem telling the events of the night. Called “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” It was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Somewhere along the line, someone noted that the words almost perfectly fit an old English tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven” — a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as “The Star Spangled Banner”, and in 1931 Congress declared it the 'official anthem' of the United States.

Now that you know the story, here are the words, which should be sung with gusto. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key:

Oh! Say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! Say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

(“Ramparts,” in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort.)

The first verse asks a question. The second gives an answer:

On the shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner. Oh! Long may it wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(“The towering steep” is again, the ramparts.) The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.

In the third verse, Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise. Since the time of The War of 1812, however, the British have become our staunchest allies, so the third verse is rarely sung. However, I know it, so here it is:

And where is that band who so dauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The fourth verse, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more slowly than the other three and with deep feeling:

Oh! Thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto: —”In God is our trust.”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O 'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Notice that our National Motto, the one that appears on all of our money and Federal Buildings, “In God We Trust,” came from this fourth verse. I hope this helps you to look at the national anthem with new eyes and next time you have a chance, listen to it with new ears.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Yesterday, the rain stopped early in the morning, way before dawn. And, as the sun poked its way above the horizon, it became apparent that today would be our first, totally rainless day since our arrival in Baltimore. Having rented a car for a couple of days, this would be the perfect day to visit Ft. McHenry; that great symbol of American Liberty, Freedom and the site where our National Anthem was born.

I have always loved our National Anthem. It’s words are difficult to sing and its tune borderline impossible. But, I love it and my heart skips a beat, my chest swells with pride and I stop whatever I’m doing whenever I hear it played. Knowing I was actually going to visit its birthplace today had me more excited than a five year old on Christmas morning.

After a 20-minute ride, not including the mandatory stop at McDonald’s, we were on the grounds of the fort, which are the best kept of any National Park we’ve visited. Being a weekday, parking was a snap and we were soon inside the Visitor’s Center. Here, we picked up our tickets and learned that, in about 10 minutes, a special flag show was going to be performed in the historic section of the fort. Not knowing what it was going to be, but not wanting to miss it either, Kim and I quickly walked the 150 yards from the Visitor’s Center to the Fort’s interior.

Once inside, the Park Rangers divided the tourists into two lines, facing each other. The Ranger then passed a 42’ double roll of nylon down between the two lines and had each line slowly back up, unrolling their side of the roll as they went. Suddenly, it became apparent we were unrolling a flag. Not just any flag, but a 42’ x 30’ exact replica of the flag that had flown over Fort McHenry at the time of the battle. With 15 stripes, each 2’ wide, and 15 stars, each 2’ from tip to tip, the flag was enormous. As the forty or so tourists stood there holding the flag, the Ranger told us about the Fort, the Flag and the battle that resulted in our National Anthem. After his presentation, we rerolled the flag and passed it back to the Ranger, who stored it away. It was quite an experience.

With the show over and the Flag put away, Kim and I continued our tour of the Fort. The tour is self-guided, but there are volunteers and Rangers along the way to answer any questions that may arise. This portion took about an hour, after which we went back to the Visitor’s Center to watch a film that was followed by a recording of Naval Academy Choir singing the National Anthem. While the rendition was closer to a hymn and not the tempo at which the Anthem is supposed to be played, it was nonetheless very moving.

With our Fort tour complete, Kim and I got into the car and drove another 20 minutes to Annapolis, MD; Maryland’s Capitol, sailing capitol of the U.S. and home to the U. S. Naval Academy. We toured parts of the city we hadn’t visited before, found a National Cemetery from the Civil War and did some last minute shopping. Afterwards, we pointed the car back towards Baltimore, and in about 45 minutes, we were back on the boat with a hot Papa John’s Pizza. It had been a wonderful day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


We are in Baltimore as you know and, after a week of rain and being only about an hour from Washington DC by car (it’s 3 days by boat), Gordon arraigned for us to have a car for a couple days and I arraigned for us to go to a WPS soccer game. Andie has a good friend, with whom she played soccer while at Clemson, who is still playing. Only now3 she’s a professional and we thought we’d go see her play.

Nancy Augustyniak Goffi, (longest name on a soccer jersey ever) plays for the Boston Breakers of the WPS and they were in town to play the Washington Freedom. Nancy and her twin Julie used to play for the Atlanta Beat, in WUSA, before that league folded.

As most of you know, I really enjoy watching soccer and knowing a player makes it that much more fun. I asked Andie to let Nancy know that we would be attending the game and that we would love to see her again. Done and done! Nancy got back with Andie and offered us tickets J and we accepted!! We spent the better part of the day picking up the usual groceries, dog food, and boat supplies before heading off to DC.

On one of our earlier stops that day, we finally broke down and bought a Garmin GPS. It has already paid for its self just getting us to the soccer field. Also, if Gordon doesn’t have a magenta line (line on the boats chart plotter) to follow he can get lost!!

The Freedom actually play in Boyds, Maryland, at a county sports and soccer complex. There are nineteen natural grass fields, three artificial fields, and eight indoor courts. Two miniature golf courses, a driving range, a swim center; and of course the Stadium completes the facility. It is really a faboulous set up and is excellent for tournaments; eat your heart out Troy!! We arrived about an hour before the game, in hopes of talking to Nancy, but were only able to get pictures of her and the teams warming up.

Now time for me to complain…TWO things that really tick me off are: ONE, people not standing, removing hats, and paying attention for the national anthem. It is a sad situation when foreign players will stand erect, facing the flag at attention and Americam players bend, stretch, and talk to one another during the Anthem. Most of these players are the ages of my children and I would knock them upside their heads if any of them had ever been that disrespectful. Ungrateful *&@?*$#^ !!!

And TWO, a person that doesn’t know the propper way the anthem is to be sung, (I know it is a difficult tune), and can’t maintain the beat acapella. If you don’t know how to sing it, DON”T SING IT!!! This woman was all up and down the scale and sung it like it was a prayer. It had to be the slowest rendition I have ever heard. Thus, otherwise, you give the players and spectators reason to bend, stretch and talk!! We should all realize that freedoms we have are being taken from us because of this indifference and lack of respect. Nuff said!

The game started out slowly, but at the 5 minute mark, the referee issued a red card on Alex Scott, a Brit, and one of the cleanists players playing. She committed to the ball and due to wet conditions, went through a Freedom player, who crumbled and began rolling about on the field, and was able to jump up and play imediately with no medical attention!! It was certainly a foul, possibly a caution, but ejection???…NO. The Breakers continued the rest of the game a player down. (Side note, Freedom has played the Breakers 3 tines with no wins!!) Tonight they would get a win in the 73rd minute off a lone goal by Abby Wambach. Nancy played most of the second half at defense and made a spectacular run across the field taking away a goal scoring opportunity.

The game ended 1-0 and we made our way around the field and were able to get more pictures and an Abby Wambach autograph on a commerative “100 goals” placard. A really cool moment was when Kristine Lilly came to the corner and her 18 month old daughter ran out to her. Kristine was on her knees and fell back on her back in a giant hug with her.(sorry no picture) This is something you don’t see in men’s professional sports. We did meet up with Nancy and were able to talk a bit, before the rain started and she had to board the bus. THANK YOU, THANK YOU and THANK YOU again!!!

Today was a one of the great days in life and marks one more thing I can check off my “bucket list!!”

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Last night, we listened to NOAA around 10:00 pm and also watched the Weather Channel on TV, trying to get an idea of what was going to happen this morning. Both reports agreed with one another, saying it would be pretty rough for the next four days. Having this information, we decided to sleep in a bit and, in the morning, prepare to stay here for a few days. Upon waking up, however, the weather was just plain gorgeous! A light breeze, sunny skies and warm temperatures belied what we had heard last night.

I got on the radio and listened to NOAA, who said the anticipated front had stalled due to an unexpected offshore low-pressure cell (what…a weather man being caught off guard!?!) I then checked on sailflow.com for a 24-hour wind speed forecast and found that they concurred with NOAA. But, and I do mean but, there was only a 24-hour window to make the trip north. There after, it would get progressively worse with the brunt of the system staying south in Virginia and the better weather up north above Annapolis. With this information in hand, I went up to the office, paid our bill and made ready to get underway.

We finally left Gloucester Point at 12:30 pm, en route to Baltimore MD. We pulled out of the marina and entered the York River and it was dead calm. Being so sheltered, however, this wasn’t any real indicator of what the Bay would be like, so we were a bit nervous regarding what we’d find once we left the river.

As we pulled out onto the bay, we were not disappointed by the weather. There’s no wind, no waves or swell and it’s eerily quiet on the water. Just the sound of the engine and occasional squawk of birds flying by as we sail on water looks like it’s been covered with a coat of motor oil. I can only think of one or two other times when we’ve had it this calm on the water, but instead of being short lived like before, it stayed like this until well after midnight.

As darkness approached, we were treated to a killer sunset. I then set points on the chart plotter that our boat would follow and sound an alarm about every hour throughout the night. I also set our radar to sound an alarm if we approached any boat within a 2–mile radius of the boat. That way, if I dozed off during the night, I’d have lots of alarms going off to keep us safe and me awake.

Around 2:00 am, we had a bad wind storm develop. We were about 12 miles south of Annapolis and were buffeted about quite a bit. The whole thing blew over about an hour and a half later so it wasn’t real bad for very long. Fortunately, the wind stayed on our nose, so we only lost some speed and weren’t rocked too much.

We made Baltimore Harbor around 11:30am after a leasurly trip up the Patapsco River. We spent some time taking pictures of an old fort (Fort Carroll) and its defunct lighthouse along the way and, once inside Baltimore Harbor, spent an extra hour cruising about and taking some pictures of the city from the water.

With the photo shoot complete, we motored on over to the Anchorage Marina and called in on the radio. We got docking instructions and were tied up at our slip by 1230 hrs and are now secure in our new surroundings. But, as for now…..It’s time to go walk the dog!

Friday, July 17, 2009


After a false start yesterday (a loose cable in an area so confined, that no mortal human can venture there) we pulled out of Atlantic Yacht Basin this morning at 0745 Hrs. We spent a few minutes waiting in the ICW for the Great Bridge Bascule Bridge to open at 0800, after which we passed through and were on our way, down the Virginia Cut, towards Norfolk.

One mile later, you hit the Great Bridge Locks. Here you secure your boat to the side of the lock and are either raised or lowered (depending on travel direction) about 2.5 feet. The locks control the flow of water and reduce the strong currents that would otherwise be present in that area.

Once through the locks, it's about another 9 miles to downtown Norfolk and mile "0" of the ICW. Continuing from Mile 0, one passes through naval yards (commercial and military) and all manner of ships being built, repaired or decommissioned. From mile "0", it's another 6 miles or so, past the Old Point Comfort Light, to the Thimble Shoal Light, where one either goes east to the Atlantic or turns north to transit Chesapeake Bay (this is the area where we were escorted by a Nuke Sub last year.)

The weather today is quite good. The seas are calm with about 1 ft of chop and no swells. There are reports, however, of storms to the west, but we’ve seen no evidence of that except for some slight darkening in the western sky. Since the Chesapeake can be temper mental, we need to be alert and keep an eye on the weather.

Once around Thimble Shoals Light, we put up sails, in addition to the engine, and ran north at about 7 knots (about 8 m.p.h.)on our way to Gloucester Point, VA. The further north we ran, the stronger the wind became and with it, the swells that hit the boat on the beam (sides) and caused quite a bit of rocking. Around 1:00 pm, the wind had grown to 15+ knots with three-foot seas and there was significant cloud cover. It was also very dark in the western sky as the forecast storm drew closer.

Fortunately for us, we made the turn into the York River around 2:00 pm and were sheltered from the wind and swells by the land. We made the York River Yacht Haven around 1530 hrs and were tied up and secured by 3:45 pm and that was just in the nick of time. About 4:15 pm, the rain started and came down in buckets for about 1.5 hours. It was really, really wet everywhere! But, we had walked the dog and gotten everything closed up before it started, so we got to watch, not experience, the water and lightening show.

If possible, were continuing on to Baltimore tomorrow. We’ll have to watch the weather closely and see what it looks like for doing an all-nighter and sailing from here to Baltimore. In the meantime, it's time to kick back, have some supper and relax for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


When I used to work for GM, I'd hear the guys who retired say that they had nothing to do at home. They would complain that, after working and staying busy every day for 30 plus years, life around the house was boring because there was nothing to do around the house to stay busy. People who live on a boat NEVER have that problem!

When we docked at A.Y.B. on Wednesday, I asked to have the batteries checked because I’d been having some problems with the XANTREX 3500 inverter/charger. It would overheat and kick out on us while charging the batteries; normally a sign of a shorted cell in one of the batteries. Steve “Sparky,” A.Y.B.’s electrician, came by the boat early Thursday morning and ran a stress test on both house batteries. The test showed that there was nothing wrong with the batteries, so some exploratory boat surgery would be required to isolate the problem. So, after returning from our trip to the lighthouse, I exposed the inverter and found that the inverter cooling-fan was dead. Damn! Friday is going to be a busy, busy day.

On Friday, I got up early, disconnected and pulled the inverter and hooked up our emergency battery charger to keep the batteries topped off. I then opened the inverter, pulled the cheap little computer style fan and called XANTREX to buy a replacement. After 6 minutes on hold, I explained the fan problem, but they refused to either sell me a new fan or refer me to where I could buy one. Their position was, I had to ship them the unit, then they would repair it and ship it back. Total time: two weeks. Total cost: $485.00. And all for a $20.00 fan that just plugs into the inside of the inverter.

After a bit of arguing, I appeared to give up and asked the agent for the correct spelling of his name and his employee I.D. number. After giving me the info, he asked why I needed it, to which I responded, “I want to make sure I have your name spelled correctly when the boat sinks and I have to fill out the cause on the Coast Guard and E.P.A. Oil Spill forms.” There was a pregnant moment of silence on the other end of the line. Suddenly, the agent was super helpful, checked distributor’s inventories and provided me with the phone number of a distributor with the fans sitting on their shelf. It was an amazing transformation of personality and position.

I called the distributor, Mobile Power Systems, in Hackettstown, NJ, (908) 852-3117, and what a difference in attitude. These folks were knowledgeable, helpful, extremely courteous and had a fan on the way to me that morning. They also said that, if I ever needed any other XANTREX components, they’d be happy to ship me what ever I needed, wherever I was located at the time.

Well, knowing I’d be at A.Y.B. a few days, I ordered some additional parts, so I could complete some other projects I’d been putting off. These included installing an Ammeter (500 amp) to track the power ins and outs, installing a new, non-leaking, hinge seal on the back hatch, replacing the seawater pump on the engine, (the old one was really worn, leaking and it cost more to rebuild than replace) clean the alternator, replace the engine V-belt and scrub and clean the bilge. I figured that, with this laundry list, I wouldn’t be bored for the next 4 days.

As work progressed over the next four days, the pieces and parts all arrived on schedule and projects, one by one, were tested and marked as complete. We now have a fully functioning inverter/charger and have the ability to monitor the boat’s power usage to the nth degree. Also, the engine runs cooler, the back bedroom is now dry and the scheduled service is done on the engine. So, we’re now clear to get on with our trip north.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Visiting Virginia Beach

We started the day off slowly; legs were still a bit sore from climbing Currituck light yesterday. We decided to drive over to Virginia Beach and check it out. We first made a stop at the visitor’s center to get a map, so we could see where we were going!!

Virginia Beach is only about 30 minutes from the boat if you use the right interstate. I-64 drops you right off onto Pacific Avenue. We headed north up to Fort Story, an active Army base that is where The Cape Henry Lighthouses are. Yes, I said houses, there are two of them sitting almost side by side. Before we could enter the base we had to clear through a vehicle inspection and show our ID’s. Since this is also an historical sight, a visitor’s gate is set up to make this procedure fairly swift and easy. It was a short drive to the Old Cape Henry light and once there we climbed the 191 steps to the top… and Schooner, too!! (They forgot to tell us the last 12 steps, or so, were a vertical ladder. Schooner made it up all right, but Gordon had to bring her back down to the landing.)

The Old Cape Henry light was the government’s first light tower completed in 1792 and was made from cut sandstone, giving it sandy reddish color. It was an active light until 1881 when the new light was lit. The New Cape Henry light is an octagonal cast iron tower painted black and white. It has been in service continually since 1881, although the light was turned off during WWII when German subs forced a blackout of all East coast lights. This light however, had the watch deck enclosed and was used as a fire control tower for 2 of Ft Story’s 16” howitzers during the war. It is an active lighthouse so we didn’t get to climb this one. L

Also, near by is a National Memorial to the first English landing in 1607, when three English ships, Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed made landfall. The Cape is named after Henry, Prince of Wales, and son of King James I, after being claimed for England. Fort Story today is home to the 11th Transportation Battalion and also serves as a special operations training site for the Army, Navy and Marines. So that is the end of your history lesson for today!!!

We made our way south and spent time (and had lunch) on the beach boardwalk. We got to check out a Naval Aviation Memorial, the Old Coast Guard Station, King Neptune and the fishing pier. It was a really great day and Schooner was completely exhausted, as were we.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chesapeake, Virginia

We got to Chesapeake, Virginia, late afternoon on Monday after an overnight stopover in Coinjock, Virginia and a prime rib dinner (It is still one of the best rib dinners money can buy.)

It seems that when we stop here at Atlantic Yacht Basin, something is bound to need fixing. Fortunately, they are equipped with men and machinery to fix about everything and you are close enough to shopping to get away from the boat. Tuesday, the day after we get here, the fan on the inverter went out, but we were able to set up the battery charger to keep up the power. While Gordon worked on that, he decided to have the batteries tested. We had some concerns that they were going to need to be replaced, although they are fine. Sparky, the electrician here at AYB, gave them a jolt of electricity and they are performing great now!!

On Wednesday we rented a car, since we had to wait on parts to arrive. We decided to do a short road trip to the northern Outer Banks and the town of Corolla. I had just finished a book “The Banker Ponies” on the wild ponies of the Outer Banks and there is a heard of about 150, located at The National Estuarine Research Reserve there. You can rent jeeps to drive the beach to see them, but we were lucky enough to see them from a lookout area since it was really late in the afternoon by the time we got there. We were told it would take about an hour to get there and it wound up being closer to 2 hours!! (Never ask a local how long the drive will take!!) About the ponies though…it is sad the government has almost destroyed this animal. They date back to the 1600’s when the Spanish first came to America, and to lighten their load, would toss the ponies overboard when their ships ran aground. The creatures survive on little to nothing still to this day. (Leslie this is a must see for you!!)

While in Corolla, we made a trek to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. It was put into service in December of 1875 and was the last to light up the treacherous Outer Banks. It was automated in 1939, but still has its original Fresnal lens. There are 214 grueling steps to reach the top!! It was also left unpainted so you can see the many red colored bricks used to build it. It was opened to the public in 1990 and in 1999-2000 it under went a major restoration.

On the return trip to the boat, we stopped at a huge farmers market and got some fresh sweet corn that had been picked that afternoon, some big peaches, some tomatoes and an orange-cranberry sweet bread. It is so nice to get back to getting fresh picked vegetables…they taste soooo good!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Manteo and 4th of July

We have had our fill of mosquitoes and left Ocracoke on Wednesday and sailed up Pamlico Sound to Manteo. The sail was rather bumpy and wet as the spray came over the bow. It seemed like it took forever to make the journey as I watched the clock for it to end. Once we rounded the inside of some of the small barrier islands north of Bodie Island the water and wind calmed down and the last 2 hours weren’t too bad.

Manteo, NC is a small town on Roanoke Island and is home of Andy Griffith and the courthouse used on his TV show Matlock. The town it’s self is rather small and dependant on tourists. There is the Festival Park that hosts many activities and a pirate ship for people to see. Every morning and through out the day you hear cannon shots fired from across the marina. There is a restored light house and a Maritime center where boats were built up until a few years ago to also visit. The docks and marina are clean and very friendly and accessible to shopping and restaurants. Yes Larry, we had to check out the food!! Strippers had some awesome seared tuna on Asian noodles and the Full Moon CafĂ© did a great seafood pasta with shrimp, scallops, and spinach, with a sun dried tomato-Alfredo sauce. WOOOOOO!! We also happened to be in Manteo on the first Friday; where the shops stay open late, music is everywhere and streets are packed and full of activities. On the 4 of July the waterfront was decorated with flags and the boats including us, were decorated too! Everyone was sporting their red, white, and blue from babies to gray hairs and even the dogs, cats and a rabbit walking on a leash! (Sorry, we didn’t get a picture.)

Schooner got her bath on Saturday afternoon and I put on her new flag bandana, that Gordon relented on to let her wear, and we awaited the fireworks show. We had gotten news of the fireworks explosion down in Ocracoke, and what a terrible loss. Thank God they didn’t explode on the ferry or there would have been more than the 5 lives lost for sure. Having just been there, and so close to the ferry dock where it happened is scary. There probably won’t be fireworks in Ocracoke ever again since the only way to get there is by ferries!! Manteo put on a spectacular fireworks display and we got to view it while sitting on the front on the boat. Oh, so close!!! We hope everyone had as wonderful day as we did and Happy Birthday USA!!

Should have done a slide show with all these pictures...oh well!!