Great spot to stop and enjoy.
08/17/2010, Dowry Creek Marina, NC
We're here! Al & Jen, where are you? We arrived this afternoon at our favorite spot in the Carolinas, Dowry Creek. Mary met us at the pier and we are safely moored in our slip while a fresh afternoon breeze cools things off. Another nice day - Alligator River, Pungo Canal, Pungo River. Not much traffic out there today. We passed one sailboat and a trawler going north and one ketch going south. That's it. Lots of birds and more beautiful scenery.
Cypress Forest, sweeping turns, beautiful day. It is always hard to leave our friends at Fishing Bay Harbor in Deltaville, but with stuff like this ahead you, you gotta go.
08/16/2010, Elizabeth City, NC
This is where boat math comes in handy: 36 = 0 ................... as in Marker 36 in the Elizabeth River, Portsmouth, equals Mile Zero on the ICW. We're in the Ditch.
We stopped overnight at Ocean Marine Yacht Center at Mile .7 and topped off the tanks with the lowest priced fuel in the Bay region, $2.58/g. Go ahead, now is the time for all sailors to smirk at the power boaters. We took on 393 gallons of diesel giving us a total of 700 in the saddle tanks. How's that 95 degree vee-berth feeling now? Finally, PRIM is nearing her lines and not bobbing around like a cork. The good news is, that will take us almost the whole way to Florida. Once we get the aft tank operational, we could make the whole run to Palm Coast and back some on a single topoff. For this trip, we'll top again at another low price fuel stop in SC or Georgia. You can save $100 or more by watching the fuel price updates on the Waterway Guide. The stern tank, another 300 gal, has not been used in a while so I won't attempt to go there until it's been thoroughly cleaned out and that's a major, messy project for some rainy day(s?) in home port.
We took the Dismal Swamp route again because we love it and we wanted to stop in Elizabeth City again. Three tugs were maneuvering a freighter backwards through Gilmerton Bridge so we stood by for about half an hour for the channel to clear. Robert the lockmaster at Deep Creek Lock is still going strong, smiling and friendly as ever. He wished us well as we locked through in the 8:30 opening. There were lots of submerged floaters in the canal but we worked our way through unscathed and were still early at South Mills opening at 1:30. I'll check the running gear at Dowry.
The next eighteen miles south of the canal is in my estimation the most stunningly beautiful section of the whole ICW. The channel opens up a bit, the water is deeper, and the sweeping turns of the Pasquotank River lined by a cypress forest provide one spectacular scene after another.
A hefty sea breeze filled in just about the time we approached the Elizabeth City bridge so the city docks on the lee shore were not an option to us for the second year in a row. We pulled into our same slip at Pelican Marina in Elizabeth City at 4:00 pm. 51.8 mi. for the day (the ICW is in statue). We showed 9 hrs on the water, 7.5 hrs underway allowing for the Gilmerton standby, two locks, a 30 minute wait entering South Mills and picking our way through debris in the canal. Not bad at all on a gorgeous day. Today, a short 35 mile hop to the Alligator River across Albemarle Sound.
PRIM is still PRIM, to us.
Almost a year to the day that we left West River we are headed south again. We're doing it on a new PRIM but this one is missing that big stick in the air and Pete doesn't have to sit in the rain to drive.
It was a wonderful year and we have slips from our doctors to prove it. But we decided mid-trip that instead of traveling for a few months and going home again, we want to live aboard for several more years. So, we opted for the trawler life. We settled on a Defever 44 and to me she is to the trawler world what our Freedom was to the sailing world; nice lines, comfortable, steady as a rock.
We drove up from Florida to commission her and took her to West River. Spent six weeks there and it was a blast to see our friends and neighbors, Greg and Mo, the old house, and of course a round of doctor's appointments. My sister, Sue, celebrated her 70th birthday July 12th and we had lunch in Old Town Alexandria. My cousin Pat's husband, Jerry, also had bypass surgery in July and came through with flying colors. We're so grateful for that.
I have wanted to do a recap of our year's cruise and a Best of the Best and All the Rest. Here goes..........
Fun with Family and Friends:
Pete has to add lots of pictures to our album but I can give a written account of the fun we had with family and friends
Starting off, we had visits in Deltaville from Carole McCullough and her friend, Greg, and Linda and Francis Miko. Had a blast eating and gabbing.
Had a fun time at Blackbeard Sailing Club in New Bern and spent a wonderful 10 days with my sister and her gang in Folly Beach, SC. Neat beach house, fun fishing and can't believe both Emmy and John are in med school. Luke, her youngest, is a doll and a talented fisherman and athlete.
Were thrilled to have another visit from Carole in New Smyrna Beach, FL and spent lots of time with my sister, Sue and her husband, Bob. Spent the holidays with them, went shopping and enjoyed some great lunches and dinners out.
January found us in a condo in St. Augustine while the boat was in the yard. It felt like we spent two months down below in freezing weather in February and March but by Easter we were out and about again.
We traveled by car to the west coast of FL to visit Pete's uncle and a cousin. Drove to Ocean Ridge in late March to visit Pete's sister Karen, husband Lou and son Patrick, wife Katie and their two kids Aidan and Delaney. Patrick and Katie are wonderful parents and the two kids are too cute for words. Karen and Lou's ocean front condo is fabulous and we even got to spend an afternoon of surf fishing on the beach.
Sailblog friends Al and Jennifer on 'Close Knit' stayed in Palm Coast while we all attended the MTOA gathering in St. Augustine. Not only are they a great couple, they're doxie lovers. Need we say more? We, including Blackie and Red, got to meet the beautiful Miss Bridget. We'll be seeing them all soon at Dowry Creek.
While driving down A-1A one afternoon, we happened upon Martha and Al on 'Journey' as they passed Matanzas Inlet. The yellow dodger and bimini were a dead giveaway. They had a harrowing experience in squall shortly after that but we hooked up that night in St. Augustine for dinner at the Columbia.
Martha, this is for you: we did some more yelling, waving and screaming when we welcomed Vicki and Tom on 'Osprey' at Palm Coast Marina. We had a good visit and got to see their beautiful boat up close for a change. Vicki has the distinction of finding Red's stuffed ring in her laundry. Red is forever thankful. He was a wreck all day looking for it
Blog followers Terri and Larry Howard stopped in on their way to the Keys. It was nice to see them again after they hosted us last fall at their home in Jacksonville. It was also good to see their loveable pooch Charlie again.
It turns out a lot of our friends from Maryland love Florida as much as we do. We had surprise visits from Dave and Rachel Dawson, Russ and Margo Zink, Mike Edwards, one of our PrimRoses, Michele, and her friend Dirk and we hope they all get south again this year.
The Best of the Best:
Keel side cuisine:
-Chesapeake Bay has it for crabs, hands down, but once you cross into the Carolinas, the shrimp is out of this world. In fact all of the seafood from Maryland to Florida was fabulous.
-Best crab cake - Toby's in Deltaville. Not to mention the unbelievable tomato pie.
-Best hamburger - the Hilton in New Bern.
-Best shrimp & grits - Beaufort, NC
-Best breakfast - good old standby Denny's in Palm Coast.
-Best potato soup - Barbara Jean's in Palm Coast
-Best steak - Johnny's in Orlando
-Best hot dog - Pete's cousin Lynn's in Bradenton. She shipped in Zweigle's from Rochester.
-Best salmon - grilled with Teriyaki sauce - Flagler Fish Company, Flagler Beach
-Best all around everything - The Riverview in New Smyrna Beach, FL
You know, there isn't enough space to list all the great meals we've had. Suffice to say, the food was delicious the entire way. We can't think of a single place we stopped that we didn't like. We should be el Tubbo's by now but we're not.
Maryland - Tilghman on the Bay, Tilghman Island
Virginia - Fishing Bay Harbor, Deltaville
North Carolina - Dowry Creek
South Carolina - Barefoot Landing, Myrtle Beach
Georgia - Brunswick Landing
Florida - PALM COAST MARINA, our new home port
Although we anchored in many of the most spectacular little holes in the wall along the way, and they were truly beautiful, we, the Admiral in particular, came to enjoy the marina life. The captain admits it is nice to be secured to a sturdy pier when the weather is the pits and being hooked in, A/C or heat running, having the capability to run to a hardware store whenever he wants or just hanging out with the local liar's club. Almost all of the marinas go out of their way to meet your needs. The local restaurants and grocery stores, even in the smallest of towns, often provide rides to and from their establishments and are most gracious in making pit stops at drug stores, post offices and beauty salons. Cabs are inexpensive when necessary. It was even easier after we decided to have our car brought down but we sort of miss the nice folks that gave us rides.
We averaged about 40 miles a day and with the help of Skipper Bob, planned our stops accordingly. Skipper Bob, Dozier's Waterway Guide, and Kettlewell's ICW chart books were the mainstay of our reading material. Everything you need to know is in one or all of these.
Many of the marinas offered BoatUs discounts and the most expensive ones were not necessarily the best. For longer stays, we opted for weekly or monthly rates. A weekly rate usually equaled about four days worth of regular day rate so anything after that was gravy. While not all are working marinas, good help is always nearby and the marina office will point you in the right direction. In Myrtle Beach, the manager at the local West Marine actually delivered parts to our dock saving us a sixteen mile round trip cab fare.
What really works:
Damp Rid - hang it in a locker, set an open container in the main salon - puts a stop to mildew.
A diffuser for the propane stove top.
Any product by Terro for little crawly things.
Best overall general cleaner - Windex
No-see-um screens - absolutely a must have - tip: anchor and get the screens in place well before dusk or you'll be hopping around the foredeck.
Plain old flypaper - be careful where you put it!
Mr. Clean Magik Eraser for vinyl
Tide Bleach sticks
'Purex 3 in 1' Laundry Sheets - no more jugs or boxes of detergent
Downy wrinkle remover - who needs an iron?
Hill's Science dog food - the Boyz are on W/D to watch their weight. Two bonuses: the results don't stink and they're dry in five minutes.
Frontline, Comfortis and Interceptor kept the Boyz flea and tick free
Dollar General stores - stop in when you see one - inexpensive paper goods, canned goods, odds 'n ends
English muffins - they stay fresher and store longer than bread
Best Hardware Stores (and there is one in every small town)
Hurds's - Deltaville, VA
Mitchell's - New Bern, NC
Approaching Alligator River Marina the dock hand yelled, "You can park it anywhere, just don't hit that Hinckley"
Making a sandwich one day, the bread tasted funny. After I ate it, I told Pete - he took a look and told me it was covered with fruit flies. Yuk!!! So, I don't recommend a fruit fly bologna sandwich but it was all protein. (Oh, there was that other thing about the concrete wall in Sisters Creek, but we aren't talking about that anymore.)
Funniest: I got my hair stuck in fly paper - took a while to get free -but it added some body for days. Also, dockhands rushing to help us dock with duct tape on the bow!
All in all, it was a grand experience and we're starting it all over again. We will add some new places and more new friends to this trip and look forward to another great adventure. When last I blogged, we had just left dry land in St. Augustine and returned to Palm Coast for the rest of the winter. It is our "assisted living marina" and we will be making it our permanent home base. We can't say enough about the staff and people at PCM, the facilities, the town, the weather, and the Early Bird Specials. So, it's flowered shirts, white sox or most likely none at all, and handicapped parking spaces galore for us. Looking forward to the gorgeous sunsets once again. I'll leave the sunrises to the captain.
Our planned week at FBH is up but about 8 pm last evening, the circulating pump for the A/C units went kaputski. That and no breeze for most of the night made for a very hot, muggy night. Still hot here. Real feels in the high 90's, low 100's. On the Freedom we were able to scoop enough air through the hatches to cool things down but not so on this one. As it turns out, the pump was not big enough to handle multiple systems so a proper sized replacement is going in today. Chesapeake Marine Railway next door was fortunate enough to locate one in stock at WM in D-ville. Our departure is delayed a bit but t-storms are forecast anyway so who cares? As soon as I get this old pump out of the bilge, I'm headed for the pool.
We arrived at FBH last Friday in time to catch up with old friends from last year. The staff is the same as last year; Ken, Mike, Coach and Lou. We had dinner at Cocomo's with JW and Gerry who insisted we take her car on Saturday for errands and to stop in at the Irvington Farmer's Market where she was showing her window art. Beautiful stuff. JW, ever the salesman, worked the crowd hard and they ended up with their biggest single-day sales for the year. Congratulations you two. Saturday evening was the weekly barbeque at the pool. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Sandy and Charles who also presented us with a cornucopia of vegetables from Charles's garden. Mmmmm! We've enjoyed them all week. Dinner tonight was Pokey's special stuffed peppers. I spent time on Sunday with Steve who has a gorgeous 60's vintage Chris Craft Constellation. He is getting Great Bear spruced up for the antique boat show in Reedville next month. We took her around to the haulout at Chesapekae Marine Railway for a quickie bottom check and paint. Steve drove me around town for some errands, including a quick stop at Dozier's Regatta Pt. to pick up a new copy of Skipper Bob's (we wore ours out last year). I got to chat a little with Jack and Craig about some of the folks from last year - Gail and Larry on Tropical Gale Winds, and Ken and Lynn on Silverheels II. Sadly, we are not able to stay here as long as we did last year. We leave FBH early tomorrow morning for Portsmouth and points south. We will miss our friends here and hope they all have a good year. See you in '11 and thanks again.
A little bit of weather and a cranky, actually not cranking, bowthruster will keep us here until Friday morning. While pulling into the fuel dock yesterday in a building breeze, the bowthruster decided to quit. We put some diesel in the tanks and settled in at Calvert Marine's transient dock for the evening expecting to leave early this morning to beat the forecast. Unfortunately the front is moving in faster than predicted so we decided to take a pass on the anticipated t-storms and start our post-commissioning relaxation early. With extra time on my hands, I looked into the thruster problem and found one of the battery terminals completely melted off. Obviously, something is not cricket there and since I am generally considered a hazard around electrical thingies, a pro is coming in the morning to check out the charging system and install a new battery. So, after giving PRIM a much needed bath today, I'm on schedule for a nap. Tough duty. We will still get to Fishing Bay for the BBQ and some of Charles's fabulous home-grown tomatos.
08/02/2010, Trtacys Landing, MD
We are finally ready to rock and roll. Well, rock yes. Roll is not allowed as long as the stabilizers do their thing. Tomorrow morning the new PRIM will head for Solomons Island, then Fishing Bay Harbor in Deltaville. We expect to stay in D-ville for about a week then boogy to Dowry Creek in North Carolina where we are excited about seeing Al, Jen and Miss Bridget on Close Knit and spending a month or so in the beautiful marina Mary keeps for everyone to enjoy.
07/15/2010, Tracys Landing, MD
For those who have, rightly so, noted that we haven't made an entry on this blog since (yeegads!) February, here goes...
We have moved. A seed was planted last August when we met a couple on a beautiful Grand Banks 46 in Fishing Bay Harbor, Virginia. I had a brief talk with Jim and Joanne on 'Long Haul' when they stopped overnight on their way south. During the course of the usual "How are ya's" and "Where you goin's", I asked Jim about the fuel consumption on their GB46. Jim admitted he used to burn upwards of 10gph back in the good old days when prices were reasonable, but he proudly said he backed off on the rpm's and improved the fuel burn down to 4gph, still moving along well at 8-9 knots. His big Cat naturals don't seem to mind and he is pleased with the economy. That got me to thinking...which can always be a problem.
Pokey and I had looked at power boats a few years back but the rise in fuel prices scared us off. At the time, everyone seemed to be running 10 to 20 gallons and hour so the costs were prohibitive to us. Besides, after 50 years of racing I still had some sailing left in me so we decided on our Freedom 45 and loved it. We cruised on Chesapeake Bay and came to realize how much we wanted to live aboard for long periods of time. Now, a few years and medical oopsies later, we find our needs, wants and limitations have changed so the time had come to consider a different direction.
Not long after we finally moved aboard our Freedom 45 a little over a year ago, Pokey spontaneously announced she couldn't imagine moving back ashore. I was thrilled, partly because I knew how much 'stuff' I had just put in storage, but mostly because the Admiral is happy and comfortable on the water and she deserves the best. Add all that to more living and storage space, sensible costs and our new found love of the ICW and Palm Coast, FL and we were off to the races.
Many evenings were spent online searching for the right boat for us. We pestered brokers and tromped aboard a variety of boats to test our theories and see what was out there. Our search settled on the Defever 44 for its quality, interior layout and the most fantastic aft deck on the market in our range. The main salon, galley and lower helm station are on the same level so we can enjoy more time together while underway. Stabilizers remove most of the rock and roll. With twin engines plus a bow thruster, I should be able to park it on a dime, well, maybe a half dollar (do they still make those?). Actually, until I get more confident with this thing, it's more like a trash can lid. Two big generators ensure that our toaster will spit out my english muffins on time every morning at anchor, mooring or pier. The engine room is huge and has almost full standing head room allowing access to the mechanicals far beyond this sailor's experience. No more bending around like a pretzel with my feet in a galley locker, skinning my knuckles on out-of-sight sharp objects, my head in the bilge, or stuffed in a lazarette wishing for longer arms, vice-like fingers and dislocated elbows. Unfortunately, there go most of my excuses, too!
On the way south last fall we managed to board a couple of Defevers and decided the 44 design fit our likes and needs best although one we saw was not in very good condition. The only thing left was finding the right one for us. When we pulled into Palm Coast on Thanksgiving Day there were two of them in the marina, one of which was for sale. We became friends with the owners of one and they confirmed what we were learning about Defevers and took a look at the one for sale. It was well over our budget but very nicely kept. We found out later it had a major issue that is being taken care of but it is still on the market. By the time we returned to Palm Coast in February, our new friends Peter and Sandy Swift had decided to move up from their 44 to a Defever 57 and asked if we were still interested. Ah, the dilemma. Who in their right mind wants two boats?!
As much as we've loved her, we spiffed and polished PRIM and she went on the market. Three Bronx cheers for this great economy. No sale yet but she's probably the best one on the market in her bracket and priced very well. Anyone out there looking for an excellent island cruiser/liveaboard in true turn-key condition can take a look at her on Yachtworld or call Meg Goncalves at Yacht Brokers of Palm Coast. Somebody out there is going to get a h_ _ _ of a deal. Here's why:
We are now the proud owners of the Defever 44 formerly known as 'Knot So Swift'. Three weeks ago we sucked it up, finalized the deal and moved aboard in Arnold, MD where she had been returned to in April. I figured if Wall Street was going to swallow my money as fast as it has been doing lately, we might as well park it in a good deal that will save us a few bucks over time. The old PRIM will sell soon enough. Meanwhile we have moved aboard the new PRIM and are currently in Herrington Harbor North while we finish minor repairs and additions and await our documentation papers. We will soon be heading south to visit friends in Fishing Bay then on to North Carolina for some serious R&R with our Sailblog friends Al, Jen and Miss Bridget on 'Close Knit' and enjoy Mary's hospitality at Dowry Creek Marina. We will keep an eye on the weather for a break to continue to our new home port in Palm Coast. 'Bye Maryland. Keep your cold and dreary winters, your crazy traffic, and your taxes. Hello Florida! where handicap parking is everywhere.
On a personal note, we are almost finished with our own surveys. My 'annual inspection' went very well and the Admiral has already gotten one very good report. We have a couple more appointments to get through and maybe a tweak or two but we and our docs are very pleased so far. All in all, living aboard has been "bery, bery good for us". We love it and we're better for it.
Well, that's my story for now and I'm stickin' to it. Now that the dam is broken, I'll be more attentive to 'Til The Butter Melts'.