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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Travel area notes
T 43* P 30.29r, Dpt 42, W NE 5-10, Hi T 70
11/02/2008, South Lake/Little Alligator River (35*55.052 x 075*54.548) End 4:15pm Pungo River Anchorage depth 10 ft at anchor (35*33.608x076*28.258)

What a beautiful traveling day! It started out on the cold side with our foul weather jackets on, and we ended up in t-shirts. What beautiful scenery along the cut here. There's a variety of trees, bushes and marsh grass but the most distinctive thing that I couldn't seem to keep my camera off of was the bald cypress and dead stumps in the water. The light color of the wood just stood out from the dark green evergreen bushes and yellow/greens of the grass. Throw in the dark brown/red water that they stand in, and Patti was snapping pictures left and right. Rob asked me to send pictures but lordy I wouldn't know where to start...

Speaking of the water here - The dark coffee color comes from tannin. It's released from the roots and decaying leaves of the juniper and bald cypress trees along the water and gives all the boats a mustache on their bow that come through the ICW. While the water looks dirty, it's not. Per the Doyle's in "Managing the Waterway" the old ships used to seek out water with tannin as it wouldn't spoil as easily. It increased the acidity of the water they stored in their scuttlebutts (wood barrels) so it wouldn't become buggy as quickly as water without it. I found that fact interesting and somehow comforting. Before reading about the color, it felt like we were traveling through dark muddy water...

The rivers, sounds, oxbows and cuts all seem to have their own personalities/ecosystems. The bald cypresses along here intrigue me. Their gnarled branches and roots look so old and fragile but the wood is a type of redwood that is resistant to rot. It's seldom harvested now because it's so slow to grow, but was liberally harvested in the past for use in hulls, coffins and as fence posts. These and other pines and conifers are good judges as to the amount of salt present in the water in the areas that we pass through. They're not salt tolerant so the more skeletons of cypress that we see, the saltier the water is. It's interesting to note how in some areas, you'll see the dead trees, then grasses teeming along the shore with the pines standing way further back or further uphill. As I recall, this area also has floating bogs (per my MS State fieldtrip to the Carolinas). I wish I'd have brought my field notes from 2 years ago now (I totally forgot them). I'll have to go by memory but it's good to see that it's still in my thoughts too.

Oh oh... I hope this isn't a sign of things to come for November
40, at 8:00am 70 at 5pm
11/01/2008, Midway Marina Coinjock, NC (36*21.132 x 75*56.842) to South Lake Anchorage, NC (35*55.052 x 75*54.548)

At 4:30am we heard an arcing sound and a click. Not a good sound, and one that definitely woke both of us out of our sleep. Got up and looked at our electric panels and discovered that the battery charger had kicked off - so we checked the readings on the batteries. Seems like they should have been about fully charged but were reading 12.39 for battery 1 and 12.53 for battery 2. We had to wait until daybreak to see anything in the battery compartment (Bill's little room on the boat) so dashed back to the warmth of the covers until morning broke. After Wayne emptied out the battery compartment of fins, life vests, and miscellaneous things like generators, we flipped the battery charger on again so he could see if anything was causing the arcing but didn't see anything. We heard the arcing sound again and a "pop" then the switch kicked off again. Sigh...Good way to start November - shivering and no battery charger! We kicked on the engine to make sure the engine would charge the batteries and it looks like it is - the batteries came up to 12.6 and 12.7 so we should be able to get to Oriental and hopefully have someone look at it/fix it there. That appears to be the next large port that we come to which is roughly 4 days travel for us from here...

Left at close to 9:30 and headed south down the ICW through Albemarle Sound (15 miles of shallow open water) until just where you tuck back into a cut. We headed for South and East Lake to anchor for the evening. It was tricky getting in, a lot of shoals, and we're anchored in 6.5 ft. Grilled pork chops, made coleslaw & biscuits and had pork & beans with it all for dinner.

There was one other boat here when we pulled in so we gave him a lot of space and went to the other side of the lake, then another boat came in while we were eating dinner and anchored next to him. I pulled out the binoculars to see who it was - it was Rafiki. We keep crossing paths with them - they were in the anchorage where we pulled up the anchor, then at Bluewater Marina. We're going to have to meet these people - we keep bumping into them.

Wayne's pretty sure it could be one of several things - the capacitor, a thermistor or varistor or diodes or it could be the charger itself. It's tucked behind the refrigeration unit so not easily accessible soooo, we'll definitely have to find somewhere to look at it.

Happy Halloween from NC
30 this morn/60s this afternoon
10/31/2008, Coinjock, NC

There was a freeze warning out this morning from 3 am to 9 am and definitely frost on the pumpkin and ice on the boat! It was grueling getting out of bed to make coffee and I was shivering while wiping the windows off getting ready to leave. I swear the further south we go, the colder it gets! I'd heard that it got into the 30's in Florida too (ready for us Wendell & Di?). It's following us... I hope not.

As the day went on it got better and a bit warmer. I made grilled cheese sandwiches and Wayne had the helm all day while I snapped pictures. I saw my first bald eagle this trip perched atop a dead tree. I'm not sure if the picture came out or not. I miss my old camera with the hunormous telephoto lenses at times like this .

The marsh areas were beautiful. We passed various cypress, sweet gum, holly trees, oxbows, saw black skimmers, ducks, cormorants and the water is very brown, almost like coffee, due to a lot of tannin from decaying vegetation. We saw a lot of Osprey nests in the channel markers but not really any ospreys in them.

We pulled into Coinjock around 3:30pm and tied up at the Midway Marina and got a nice hot shower then dinner at the restaurant here (Wayne's birthday dinner finally). The captain's platter had an assortment - clams, oysters, scallops, flounder and shrimp and I had HUSH PUPPIES! The first in 3 years since my fieldtrip here with MSS! So a classic seafood birthday dinner! Tomorrow we'll head for the Alligator River. I'm full & sleepy... nite - nite...

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