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Madcap Sailing
Thanksgiving in Oriental
Beth - warm on Thursday, hat and mitts on Friday
27/11/2009/6:13 pm, Oriental, NC

We arrived in Oriental in time to partake of the Thanksgiving Buffet at Oriental marina. It was our good fortune that Jim and Betsy (Feelin' Lucky) arrived in time to join us. We heaped our plates with all the traditional good eats - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce, and at least some of us added apple pie to already full stomachs!

Because there are strong winds forecast for the next two days, we decided to take a slip at the marina here. ($1.75 per foot, excellent showers/laundry/wifi). Imagine - Madcap tied up again!! Jim did a masterful job of turning into the slip, I had the lines all ready to throw over pilings and between us - with the help of Tom the dockmaster - we did a smooth job of docking. Then it was time for puzzling out how to let this line slack - pull this one tighter - do the same with different lines all over again to let Madcap rest where the big bowsprit wouldn't hit the dock and yet some portion of the side deck would be within leaping distance of the slip. Yeah! Success!

This picture shows the shrimp boats at sunset last night, and if you look up the town dock web cam ( you might see Madcap's mast visible in the far left corner above the roof of the Bean - the local coffeeshop. Of course if you wait too long, we'll be gone!

There were only 3 boats in the anchorage, unlike our other visits when Madcap has been one of many out there, and I'm just as happy we weren't among them this time. The wind really came up during the night and we heard some loud voices and saw movement out there. Apparently someone dragged. Glad it wasn't us.

On Friday morning, Bob arrived to check out our refrigeration system. Unfortunately his diagnosis was that we need a new compressor - not good news since that is another pricey item. Some more "not good news" was that it would be several days to get the part in and then have him install it. So - in the interests of getting further south before we get snow on our decks, we are now an ice-box boat. We know other cruisers who travel this way all the time, and although it is harder to keep things cool with ice, we can do it for a while too. We visited Jim and Betsy onboard Feelin' Lucky to do some research, and decided to see about a fix farther down the way.

Bob was a fascinating person - he says he is 80 although his agility and enthusiasm for life would lead one to think he is at least 10 years younger. He and his wife used to run a charter business in the Caribbean, and now they have settled into land life here. (Maybe... I get the feeling that since Bob has just finished building a house, he is looking for a new adventure.) When we asked how he keeps so youthful, he put a finger to his head and said with a nod that it is mostly a state of mind. Words to ponder from a man who seems to know what he is talking about. Between them, he and his wife have 10 children and are in training to become foster parents!

We chatted with Ed and Fred who were walking the dock this morning, and discovered that the boat tied up next to us in Dowry Creek Marina belongs to Ed. Last night we met Frank, who with his wife, Chris, is taking his first cruise on Melodean - the boat he spent 30 years building. Melodean is tied up at the town dock and is sure attracting visitors. It is a distinctive boat - red hull, junk rigged sails, a chimney that was dispensing wood smoke when we took our evening walk.

We went in search of a small propane tank to have as a spare, and some distilled water to top up our batteries, neither one of which could be found at the hardware store. When the man at the counter said we were asking for the wrong things and to try another question, Jim asked for shrimp. The guy (how could I have forgotten to ask his name?) turned to his co-worker and said, "Hold me back, Mary!" I guess Jim will have to go back tomorrow with a new request.

Although we took a look in the interesting little mariners consignment store, I couldn't convince Jim to buy anything. I had a great time prowling around the Inland Waterway Provisioning store - part chandlery/part souvenir shop - and of course we picked up coffee and muffins at the friendly Bean across the street where dogs, old folks, kids and all the rest of us flock for conversation and sustenance.

We'll check out the Farmers market here tomorrow, pick up some fresh fish, and then be on our way. With luck we will make Beaufort and then be able to SAIL on the ocean!!

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Dowry Creek
Beth - 58 but it felt colder on the water
25/11/2009/7:19 pm, Dowry Creek Marina

We are in Dowry Creek - very near Belhaven - after coming through the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal. We spent Tuesday night anchored off Deep Point in the Alligator River - a good little spot with room for several boats. As we came along we wondered about protection, but a boat that was already there, Foxglove, called to say they were sitting very comfortably. Accordingly, Madcap and Oz pulled in, followed shortly by Feelin' Lucky and a boat we have seen several times but have not yet met - Condesa. We all had a good night and were gone by 9 the next morning.

We have been motoring along - not enough wind to sail across the Albemarle Sound - and today the wind was on our nose - and of course we were in the narrow overland cut so didn't have a lot of leeway anyway.

We followed Oz into Dowry Creek - a regular stop for them - filled up on diesel and topped up the water tanks, and then decided to take a slip for the night. That is unusual for us but it is a great little marina and it was a chance for us to try getting into one of those slips with the pilings and the little short docks. You know the ones???? What a hash we made of it, but the folks on the docks really helped us out and we finally managed to get the lines around the poles and figure out how to do it.

We've done laundry and had showers and enjoyed the nightly happy hour in the very nice clubhouse. (How about this bottle tree that stands near the clubhouse? New species to me!) We've been encouraged to stay for the cruisers' Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow night, but think we will leave and head for Oriental. It's a bit of a struggle deciding what to do. The weather forecast is for winds on Friday that we might like to be tucked away for, and if we stay here for tomorrow, we might still be here another day.... and our inclination is to keep moving.

Good news - Jim fixed the remote mike for the VHF radio. I can't tell you how - but he just worked through a bunch of trouble shooting things and then said "I've fixed it! Who's your Daddy?" Now if he can do the same thing for the fridge, I'll be even happier!

There hasn't been much traffic along the ICW. We met a couple of tugs and barges today but always when there was lots of room to pass. One bald eagle was perched high in a tree and several vultures watched the passing traffic.

Oh - I have to tell you that the movie in Elizabeth City wasn't quite as bad the second time around - maybe because we weren't expecting much? And the whole experience was a lot of fun. The theatre had upscale little tables with shaded lamps and a phone to call in our food orders. It would be a really neat idea for some of the old theatres back home I think.

As I was walking back from the grocery store, a woman wheeled her SUV around in front of me and called out "Get in!" I did and she drove me back to the waterfront. Jim asked Charlotte at the Visitors Centre where to get ice and she said, "I'll take you there!" So we both had very positive experiences in Elizabeth City. Good place!! Dowry Creek Marina - good place too!

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A Day on Land
Beth / 60ish (temperature not age!!)
23/11/2009/11:22 am, Elizabeth City, NC

The wind howled around last night and we were happy to be tied to the wall at Waterfront Wharf. Today is brighter, and really quite pleasant. Jim and I went to the local seafood store/restaurant for lunch (steamed shrimp for me and a sampler platter for him) and then walked back to Muddy Waters for coffee and wifi.

As we were strolling around yesterday admiring the elegant old houses - some not so elegant anymore, but others just lovely - we met a young mum picking jalapeno peppers from her garden. She very kindly gave us some (stuffed with cream cheese, they were hot and good) and took time for a good chat. I loved her yard. It was a big corner lot with flowers and vegetables and lots of play structures including a castle/hen house for the two chickens that were picking their way around the garden. We hadn't realized that Elizabeth City is home to a huge Coast Guard complex - the largest on the east coast (and maybe the nation?) It also has a couple of colleges and a state university. She says it is about a 45 minute commute to Norfolk so there are lots of people living here and working in larger centres. It must be a nice way to have a quieter quality of life.

Tonight we'll attend the local movie theatre/diner for dinner and a show. Ken and Connie have been here before and it sounds like fun. You get there at 6, sit down at a table, pick up the phone on it, order dinner, eat and drink, and then at 7 the lights go down and the movie starts. Can't believe the movie is Men Who Stare at Goats. We saw that while we were in Solomons, and despite the good actors in it, we thought it was "kinda dumb with some funny moments". Perhaps with a glass of wine in hand and the company of friends it will be better the second time around??

We'll do a restock of some produce and dinner fixings at the grocery store this afternoon (they pick up and deliver to the Mariners Wharf) and Susan at the Welcome Centre says there might be a "rose buddy" wine and cheese reception at 4:30 if there are enough cruisers around and the weather cooperates.

We seem to have a glitch in our refrigeration system - and maybe the VHF too. We can hear a beep on the radio that seems to be from the fridge (how is that possible?) because when we turn off the fridge, it stops, but when we turn off the radio the beep is just quieter. Jim is doing some trouble shooting and we hope it will be an easy fix.

What we haven't figured out yet is the static in our remote VHF mike (the one in the cockpit) that started a couple of days ago. It makes so much noise that we have to keep it turned way down and then we can't hear when someone is calling, except that the static stops during a conversation. There is no static on the nav station radio and they are both connected to the same antennae. We have a handheld VHF so that helps, but its range is not nearly as great. Ideas anyone??

Tomorrow morning we'll be off across the Albemarle Sound and into the Alligator River. I'm not sure where the next posting come from but it will be south of here!

Thanks for posting comments folks, it is great fun to find them and know you are travelling with us.

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24/11/2009/7:27 am | Marilyn Daynard
Hi Cousin & Beth. Just a quick note after reading some of your adventures. What wonderful experiences you two are having. Thanks for sharing. Safe travels. Love & hugs, Marilyn
24/11/2009/2:57 pm | David & catherine Allin
Hi Jim & Beth : Just realised that you are on the move once again. We leave Montreal for Savannah on 30th November and will launch "Solitaire1" round about the 2nd or 3rd in Thunderbolt leaving the 4th or 5th. We are heading for the Bahamas once again (4th time) hoping to make HopeTown for Christmas. Shall hope to meet up with you again - let us know should you be in the Thunderbolt vicinity before we leave otherwise fair winds and calm seas ! David & Catherine.
25/11/2009/9:44 am | Bob & Denise
Hi Beth & Jim

We had a similar problem with the RAM for our Standard Horizon VHF a few years ago. It was defective, coundn't be repaired and was replaced.

Have a safe trip.

Bob & Denise
Scott Free I

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