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Lemons Way
The continuing adventures of a cruising sailor/family lawyer, his wife (also a lawyer), and their young children.
Morning Sun On Wrightsville Beach
Nice, even though no dogs are evidently allowed on the beach during the summer
08/01/2008

When we awoke, it was sunny and calm again. We dingied into shore and took a long walk through the beach town. Knowing that I had misread (perhaps purposely) the signs about when dogs were allowed , I only brought them far enough to take this picture. The rest of the walk was far enough to tire them out nonetheless.

Wrightsville Beach Sunset Thunderstorm
Keith
08/01/2008

We traveled a short 22 miles (4-5 hours with one long wait for a broken bridge) to this happening beach town, though the beach town scene is starting to become a bit routine. What made things interesting was a fat thunderstorm that came through shortly after I took the dogs for a walk on the dog restricted beach. I was about to dingy back to town by myself to do some grocery shopping when I saw lightening in the distance. I've taken to letting out a lot of chain to give the anchor enough scope with the tidal currents that frequent this region. Even so, I went up and let out a total of 90 feet of chain. I would have let out all 100, but that would have put me too close to another sailboat. It held no problem. But what a show. Lightening all around us - long strikes that seemed not to stop as quickly as one would expect. I battoned up the hatches and made macaroni and cheese and a hebrew national hot dog sliced in (I know) while the water was sheeting off the windows. Anne stayed close, Jake seemed oblivious. When the storm finally ended, the air was cool and moist and we all had a great night's sleep. This morning is clear and calm again (for now). We took a great hike through town and I went and got those groceries. I've got some good pictures from that which will get posted this afternoon or evening. The boat is sparkling from the hard wash. Turns out my procrastination in not scrubbing the decks since we started paid off.

The Afternoon Walk Leads To The Atlantic Side
Keith, warm and muggy by day, cool and muggy by night
07/31/2008, Topsail Anchorage

We landed the dingy about 200 yards from the sailboat on a little beach (formerly a launching ramp) surrounded by docks. There was even a little post to tie the dingy to so I didn't have to pull it up the beach. Jake and Anne are great ambassadors of good will. It's like everybody knows them already and many people come right on over and say hello to us. The dogs get pet by strangers every day. North Carolina people, I must say, appear to be true dog lovers. Anyway, its because of the dogs that I feel ok landing pretty much anywhere. People see that I've got animals that need to get off the boat and do their thing and walk around. We clean up after ourselves and don't stay for long. One woman commented that she sees a lot of goldens on boats. I'm not surprised. A mature golden retiever does great on a sailboat if they are taken on land walks regularly. The dogs are great at hanging out while sailing. They don't get uptight at all the little things and they enjoy just being all together. It was only a short walk from the landing spot to the Atlantic, where we walked along the beach. The waves were high and the surf was dangerous, so I kept them on leash. Returned to the boat, made a nice dinner of steamed rice and the rest of the chicken in a stif-fry with fresh vegies. We may take off later tomorrow as our destination is only 20 miles away.

Southwards
Keith, hot and muggy but comfortable as I've adjusted to the weather and the breeze is cooling - wouldn't want to be stationary digging ditches in this weather
07/31/2008, Southern, North Carolina

When it got light I pumped Lil' Dreamer with air and.... it held. Boarded the dogs, put back on the outboard (not in that order), and headed to the town dingy docks, this time choosing a parking spot much more carefully. Walked the dogs, headed back to the boat, prepared her for cruising, and we left. Yesterday's cruise was 32.35 miles. The wind was against us pretty much the whole time so it was just cruising and no sailing. Again we are traveling through shallow waters with a narrow channel that runs about 10-12 feet deep. Tropical Dreamer draws 4.5 feet. My depth meter alarms at 4 feet below the keel, or 8.5 feet of water. There were several alarms yesterday as I inadvertently drifted out of the channel. Fortunately, I only grounded once. It was a pretty serious one right at the end of the day. I was trying to decifer the directions to tonight's anchorage and I took a left after the marker instead of before it. I could feel the boat ride up onto the sandy shelf. I was sure I was going to have to call the tow boat to get me off, but after several minutes of back and forth thrusting, I gradually reversed myself off and floated away. I couldn't believe it. Tonight's anchorage is on a wide channel about a mile off the intercoastal waterway. On one side of me are beautiful marshes and on the other the beach houses that line the Atlantic shore. The cruising guide sent us to anthor spot near this small marsh island in the middle of the channel, but that didn't make sense to me since there are dozens of nice landing points for dingy exploration all along the channel. The anchorage's bad point, though probably all anchorages in these parts have this problem, is the tidal currents. They change direction and if the wind is going one way and the tide the other (like now), its confusing for the boat. It circles the anchor chain and scuffs the bottom of the boat. Sounds even worse sitting on the inside of the boat. But I don't think there's anything that I can do about it so I check that we are still holding and go back below.

Morning Sun At Swansboro Anchorage
07/31/2008

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A Thank You To The Commentors
Keith, cool breezy night
07/31/2008, Top Sail Anchorage

I am so taken by the kind folks who leave comments on this blog. The advice, the encouragement, and the questions mean a lot to me. I've cruised in very social environments where one is with friends all the time. I've cruised in lonely far off places where there's nobody around. This trip so far has been on and off people-wise. Not too many fellow travelers on the road less traveled leading south in the heart of the hurricane season - for good reason I suspect. The comments have been particularly appreciated this past week. Thank you and keep it up. I've taken to looking at the comments before each blog entry to see if anybody out there cares what we're doing. It's nice to know we're not alone. Jake and Anne send their hello and thanks to the commentors too.

Another Dingy Disabled
Keith, windy with fast current
07/30/2008, Swansboro, NC

One nice thing about being an armchair sailor is one is separated from all the unpleasantries of living on a sailboat. The dampness. The smells. The worry that one's anchor might be dragging - or that it will drag if that thunderstorm comes our way. I actually pulled out the emergency second anchor this afternoon when a squall threatened. I think I will keep it handy from now on. It seems like true sailors either don't mind these things, or they relish them. I don't know yet whether I am true. I guess time will tell. I'm not giving up the "great" for the good just yet, but the thought may have crossed my mind when we returned from a long hot walk to the Walgreens and Post Office to stock up on prescription meds and candy to find the dingy 1/2-way deflated and filled with water. This happened once before at the Whitaker docks in Oriental. I filled it up and it held air without trouble since. This time there was a gash about an inch long towards the bow right around the waterline. I didn't know this until my inspection later on. I knew I didn't want to camp out on the dock with the dogs so I pumped out the water, pumped up the deflated chamber, and made a run for the boat with the dogs as the tube became flacid (did I just use that word). Got everyone on Tropical Dreamer and pondered my situation. I was not having pleasant thoughts. I figured I better get the engine off and stored on the sailboat so I didn't lose it overnight if the dink sank. It was an awkward exercise, but I did it. Then I unloaded the rear cabin of the sailboat, obtained the patch kit for the zodiac, and reloaded everything back in its place. This brought back the memorable sensation of being exhausted while covered from head to toe with sweat that Matt and I shared every day during that refit month in Oriental. I was not having pleasant throughts at all. I tied the bow of the dingy up out of the water where I could reach it and proceeded to install the patch. The space around the gash didn't allow as much patch material as I would like, but its decent considering the circumstances and conditions. I'll let it dry overnight and see if it holds air in the morning.

Swansboro Town Park
Keith, nice morning
07/30/2008

After it got light I took the dogs for a long walk to explore the town. Like Oriental, there are many historic houses, most with signs telling when the house was built and who it originally belonged to. There are houses here from the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900's. I'm starting to identify the styles from those periods. They have built a wonderful park along the water, depicted in the above photograph. I've seen numerous parents with their children fishing from both the town park docks and the town dingy docks. Fishing off docks seems to be a popular leisure time activity all around these parts. I haven't obtained a rod yet. I don't care to kill anything, except sometimes in court, and I'm even holding off on that presently. I like certain sea food, but prefer to buy it already gutted and cooked. Maybe that will change as I spend more time on the coast.

Sunset In Swansboro, NC
Keith, beautiful
07/29/2008, This picture is taken through a screened porthole

I'm learning how current affects cruising. For several miles the current was with us yesterday and the speed over ground was 1.5 knots higher than the speed through the water. Then it gradually changed to the opposite, then after passing Bogue Inlet, it changed opposite again so that I was going over 7 knots over ground as I approached Swansboro. I powered down and was stiill moving over 2 knots over ground. When I arrived at the anchorage I turned facing the current, dialed up just enough power to inch forward, and set the autopilot. It kept us perfectly straight until I had the anchor down and could complete the power down so we would drift back and set the anchor. By golly it worked. I played out extra chain to account for the current and we held fast. Dropped the dingy, headed into town with the dogs, and picked up a great fried flounder, chowder, hush puppy, and french fry dinner. Even after putting some extra in the dogs dishes, I've got leftovers. Going to stick around here today to get a few things done. I've got excellent internet connection and phone service, the town seems quaint but full-service, the weather is nice, and we have a sweet spot right off the town dingy dock. We tried sleeping in the cockpit last night as the town lights were so soothing and the cool breeze so nice. I think we will be doing a lot more of that. I awoke at some point and finished my sleep in my cabin, but the dogs stayed outside and didn't want to come in in spite of my urging. Jake has adopted the port side gunnel of the boat as his spot. He lodges himself against the lifelines and even sleeps out there on the edge. It worries me but he really likes it out there and seems perfectly at ease. I wouldn't let him do it while moving, but at anchorage, I let them roam the boat a bit more. The light is starting to come up here and it is very peaceful. The dogs are both still sound asleep. Their fur gets damp out there at night, but they don't seem to mind a bit.

Thank Goodness We're Out Of That
Keith, sunny and warm/hot
07/29/2008, Beaufort Inlet

I have a number of pictures from yesterday, but this one seems to stick out at me. Anne breathes a sigh of relief to be out of the Atlantic swell on the way back from Cape Lookout. I was seriously surprised nothing broke on that run. Now I know how it is important to stow everything before an ocean passage, especially one lasting more than a few hours. I have to say I never felt in danger out there. The Catalina 36 feels strong and it takes the seas well. My only regret is that I couldn't put up the sails because the wind was against us. I think the motion would have been smoother, and quieter. It is a totally different thing sailing in the open ocean and motoring through the calms of the intercoastal waterway. When I was out there I wanted to continue and make it an ocean passage but the dogs had had enough of open ocean for the day. The cruise from Cape Lookout to our present location (Swansboro, NC) was about 35 miles. Of that we sailed without the motor about 10 and motorsailed about 15. The other 10 was pure motoring. After leaving Beaufort and Morehead City behind, it was a beautiful cruise in sunny weather along the 17 mile Bogue Sound. Winds were about 10 ahead and sometimes on the beam enough to roll out the foresail. I had to keep a close eye on the depth meter as the ICW channel is the only navigable waterway though the sound. The rest of it is too shallow for a cruising sailboat. It is easy to lose the underwater channel if one is not paying attention. There was at least one point in the day when my depth meter read 0.0, but I didn't get stuck thankfully. I'm amazed that the huge barges don't ground.

 

 
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