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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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A real tarpit harbor...
05/16/2009, Eastham Creek Anchorage NC (N35*17.680 W76*36.514) to The Pungo River, NC (N35*33.715 W76*28.557)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yucky, rainy morning out. I made some oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar for breakfast and at 9am we started to pull the anchor up. The helm kept feeling like it was binding up and when Wayne gave the signal for "anchor up", I couldn't see where we had moved at all. I would have sworn we were still at anchor but I throttled forward, no movement, backward - no movement, then forward and then a little movement - but we were pretty stuck. Wayne wanted the helm so I gladly turned it over to him and he tried to get us "unstuck". Around noon the engine overheated so we cut the engine and around 12:30 I called Towboat US. Towboat Oriental called back and said that we were to far for them to assist and to try hailing River Forest or Belhaven for Tow Boat. They never responded, so Oriental said they'd give them a call. I asked if this was the Tow Boat from Deaton's and he said yes ma'am... I laughed and said we remember you from last year - twice in one day on our way down and told him about our favorite mechanic there! Tow Boat from River Forest finally called back on the radio, wanted our vital statistics (unlimited towing basically) and said they'd be there in 30 minutes. In 30 minutes they called back to say it was to rough (choppy) and they were going to slow down and so wouldn't be to us until 2pm. Okay... I guess we'd wait LOL - did anyone see a choice other than that? We're now in an area where the tides don't affect us so we can't float off at high tide and our dink only has a 5 hp motor so it can't push our nose out... hmmmmm... The part that frustrated Wayne was that we were less than a yard away from 12 ft water and he couldn't break us free from that tenacious black mud and clay no matter which way he tried to plow the boat.

At 2:00pm, they showed up; 2:10pm we were free and back on the ICW. We couldn't really see where it was really choppy in the waters from Belhaven to where we were stuck in the mud for them to be delayed for so long, but hey... back into the dark, red brown, tannin laden waters to the Pungo River.

Talking about the Pungo River (and Alligator river) I can't remember if I ever mentioned... The Pungo/Alligator Canal opened a gap for salt water to invade fresh water in these parts forming a brackish cocktail if you will. Along the area you can see the silvery, skeletal remains of cypress rising up out of the marshes. Bald Cypress will tolerate brackish water if it's not to salty, but when the salt content rises and the water becomes to saline, the cypress die and the swamp is replaced by salt tolerant cord grass. I never thought I'd like taking pictures of stumps and the skeletal remains of trees, but I find that I keep snapping pictures of them. The Alligator River is one of the last eastern areas of black bear and red wolves. I keep looking for them and listening at night, but no musically, eerie howls of the red wolf, or sightings of black bear. Loblolly pine replaces the long needle pine along the Alligator and Pungo the further north we go. I love the smell of N. Carolina and the sight of the tall pines. They both remind me of home and the upper peninsula of Michigan. There's a nice earthy, rain kissed, pine scent with a faint sweet odor of flowers along the banks of the river.

We anchored at 6:30pm in 10 ft of water along the Pungo River and managed to go 24.7 miles, even with quite a late start. This is a nice anchorage, but we had to play dodgem with all the crab pots sprinkled throughout the area. After we anchored, a speedboat came by and slowed down. While Wayne was draining the dink of all the rainwater, a lady called out "Welcome" to him, and then they sped back up and continued on their way. That was really nice of them. I made an Aloha Salad with turkey earlier while we were stuck in the mud (hey can't bake brownies all the time) for dinner and it was a hit with Wayne. But then of course it had to be - it had pineapple, mandarin orange, coconut, pecans and lots of meat in it served up with crackers and cheese. It would have been great with blueberry muffins (I'll make it with these once we get home - blueberries should be in season).

A couple of small blunt nosed porpoise were hunting dinner in the anchorage - they surprised me - another unexpected treasure...

“It don’t get any prettier than that”.
05/15/2009, Town Creek Marina, Beaufort NC (N34*43.519 W76*39.898) to Eastham Creek, NC (N35*17.680 W76*36.514)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Started out this morning raining, but the winds were less than yesterday so after Wayne grabbed a quick shower and checked us out at the marina we headed out... I should say backed out - with some trepidation on my part. It's been a long time since I had to back out of a slip, and with winds and currents - I was quite nervous. Soooo...Last night I studied directions on how to maneuver a single screw prop to back out without the port prop-walk. Thank you for the directions Capt'n John on the Bayfield Group Site. I'd printed these out a while ago and had found them on my old computer. With yesterday's currents and wind I truly was apprehensive about backing out between a large fishing yacht on one side, and the 4 pilings I was tied to in our berth. I didn't want to hurt his boat, our boat or take out any pilings. After Wayne tossed in the lines, I turned the wheel hard starboard, gunned reverse then let up on it and straightened the wheel. I now had an audience on the dock watching me - one of the owners of the marina... Talk about nervous... my palms started to sweat. Did the same maneuver and backed out straight then noticed that this was a narrow pathway and I was about to back into the pilings of the slips behind me. Wheel hard over once more and throttle forward. Then reverse throttle up again. Forward, throttle and our little Bayfield turned in a tight rotation. Woosh! Wayne was on the bow watching out for our bowsprit and the piling. The owner was on the dock watching me and then said something to Wayne, which I couldn't hear. When Wayne came back he said the guy paid me a compliment and asked if I heard him. No, I didn't. He said "It don't get any prettier than that". Oh boy, did I eat that up. Especially since when I looked over, the guy was still looking at me dumbfounded.

We made it into Eastham Creek off the Alligator River about 5:30pm (43.6 miles today) and anchored in about 7.5 ft. It felt like we dragged across the channel but Wayne said it was just the chain playing out. I made potatoes augratin with pork chops and asparagus for dinner and it really hit the spot. Pretty sky tonight. I can't believe the number of crab pots here. Two other boats are anchored here but closer to the ICW.

Beaufort NC Estuaries and Rachel Carson
05/14/2009, Town Creek Marina, Beaufort, NC

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We were going to leave this morning, but with the winds 15-25 and thunderstorms predicted, I really felt better staying at port. I spent the morning doing computer chores (virus scans, etc...) since we have access to Internet and power here.

I was surprised, when I pulled the old computer out, to see that it was getting rust and mold on it in storage so I had to clean it up before turning it on. I was in search of pictures for Colonial that I couldn't find on the current computer today and ended up doing general maintenance on the older computer. It had been a while since virus scans etc... were run and that ended up taking all day. I did manage to find some old games on it that I hadn't played since leaving home (okay - so it wasn't all work - shhhhhhh...)

Wayne enjoyed a nice quiet day of reading and listening to me read various things to him from the old journal.

On another note - I forgot to mention yesterday - Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring) wrote her first book about the estuaries that surround Beaufort. It's called The Edge of the Sea. When we came through the bridge yesterday there was a small skiff with her name on it, which clicked in our heads, and we later found out about her affiliation with Beaufort during our walking tour. There are numerous places along the Creeks named in her honor and they have the Rachel Carson Reserve here. She was a naturalist that aimed her writing talents against pesticides (DDT), which threatened the existence of several species, including the Bald Eagle. Thanks to her persistence, the Bald Eagle is making a comeback and people are more aware of the hazards of some of the poisons that we've used without thinking of the consequences...

We ate dinner at Fish Tales. They have very good food. Wayne got the Black Fin Tuna and I got the Shrimp & Sausage Penne special. Desert was Key Lime Pie and Double Fudge Brownie with ice cream. Whoah - those deserts were double size portions - I couldn't finish mine and these are really deserts made for sharing... Fish Tales is highly recommended!

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