04 November 2007 | Mile Hammock Bay, NC, Mile 244.5
The wind dropped and the decision was made. We strolled down the street to experience a fab breakfast at Yana's - full of 50's memorabilia all over the walls - Marilyn Munro, James Dean, the Lone Ranger - complete with a cut out Elvis in the bathroom thanking me for coming in!! Jim said Marilyn was with him in the men's bathroom but she didn't talk to him. The place was full and the food was good - western omelette and grits/2 eggs with ham and home fries - both with fluffy biscuits. (Grits are better with cheese in a dinner entree than with breakfast; they taste pretty much like cream of wheat porridge there.)
We pulled out of Casper's marina and pointed the bow south once more, joining a string of motor and sailboats traveling down the ditch. The powerboats would pass - almost always radioing to signal their intention. That is one very nice thing we have noticed here. I suppose it is because of the narrowness of the channel, but the faster boats generally call the boats they intend to overtake on VHF Channel 16. The conversation takes place on that channel (rather than moving to a conversational channel) and is short, polite and to the point. For example: "Madcap, Madcap, Madcap...this is motor vessel Speedo right behind you. We intend to take you to starboard." Our reply is: "Speedo, we'll slow down and let you take a slow pass (or no-wake pass) to starboard. Thanks for the call." There is no switching of channels unless either vessel wishes further conversation, so it's a fast interaction that doesn't take up time on this hailing channel. Almost all powerboats have passed us with a minimum of wake. On the odd occasion when someone has gone speeding by a slower vessel leaving them to rock and roll in the wake, there is often a sharp comment sent (not from us - why bother? The boat is long gone and probably doesn't care anyway, so why waste our breath?) This system is much better than trying to guess whether the boat wants to pass now or later, which side she favours, and what would be most helpful for us to do.
One of today's bridges opened only on the hour, one on the hour and half hour, and one only during a couple of two hour periods because it is having some sandblasting done. We were SO lucky. We were too speedy for the first one and had to dilly dally for about 20 minutes. This is always a little tricky because unlike a road where everyone just stops still, there is current in the water and the boats drift a little this way and that way, always trying not to get too close to each other or too close to the bridge, but at the same time, trying to keep close enough that we can make an efficient passage through when the bridge does open. Another lovely polite little thing here is that often, the boats call to the bridge master thanking him for the clearance, and he (almost always a he so far) answers back with a "Have a good day Cap'n - you be safe out there.") I just love it!!!
We were a few minutes late getting to the Onslow Beach Bridge, and for whatever reason... maybe because he had only one boat there and he could see a string of us hustling along?... he delayed his opening and we all made it through. These are Nice people here.
We ended our day in Mile Hammock Bay - smack in the middle of Camp Lejeune Military Base. Some of our friends had been here a couple of days ago and had all kinds of interesting military sightings to report. Unfortunately/ or foutunately? We had a blisflully peaceful time of it with just one fighter plane doing touch and go landing practice before we got there. There was one lone boat in the bay when we arrived, and four of us pulled in together. We sorted ourselves out into comfortably distant anchoring spots, and by the time the stars came out there were 24 of us there...now quite cosily close.
Jim and I lowered the dinghy to go visit a sweet little trawler that had passed us earlier in the day. Now this is a story!
My cousin, Russ, had mentioned that friends of his were traveling south and were somewhere near us - being in Oriental the day before we were. I couldn't remember the name of the boat or the name of the people, but I did remember that it was a trawler and the homeport - painted on the stern - was Moncton, NB. Well ... when this trawler passed us, I, of course, hailed them on the radio and said - "Are you friends of my cousin Russell?" And the answer was YES!! Isn't life just grand? (Mary Beth - if you are reading this - I know you'll be rolling your eyes and bent double with laughter! Russ - thanks for the message! We all agreed with Steve that you are the Hurricane Guru.)
So we had a lovely visit with Sally and Steve on Sea Duck, discovering in the process that they live just down the road from our friend Noreen in Baie Verte, NB. Such a small world, this is. We also met Rich and Kathleen on Wind Drum, and rowed over to say hi to Mike and Kathy on Sapphire as they pulled in.
I cooked dirty rice and mustard greens for dinner - gotta get into the southern cooking style - and we watched the movie "The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood" - again a mood thing since it was filmed at Orton Plantation Gardens near Southport, an area we will pass tomorrow. It's a good movie though - even Jim liked it.
When I took my last look outside before turning in for the night, the sight was just magical. It was a crystal clear night. The stars were brilliant high above us; all 24 of those anchor lights twinkled and were reflected in the glasslike water so it was just as if we were among the stars themselves. Ahhh - moments like these...