No more Mice and no more Lice
12 November 2019
We caught the mouse four nights ago! Larry had been the only one to see it fall through the companionway onto the floor of the saloon last Tuesday and we hadn’t seen any sign of it since so I was beginning think he imagined it. But on Saturday we found muse droppings in the cutlery drawer and one of our food storage cubbies. (The only nibbled casualty was an emergency reserve package of SideKicks pasta). We placed the traps accordingly that day and by bedtime heard the trap snap. Luckily the kids were already asleep so they were spared the gory details.
As for the lice...well...we are 95 % in the clear...We have, painstakingly, been going through our hair multiple times a day. Between Annie and me, Mark spends 2 hours per day combing through our hair. He has threatened us with his electric raiser but the situation is not quite THAT dire.
Thursday was a long day offshore starting in Morehead City in the dark, departing at 4:15 am. We arrived in Wrightsville, North Carolina just after 4 pm. An arduous day like that was made a lot easier having Beth and Larry along to share the load of navigating, schooling and meal prep. Our reward, upon arrival, was a fabulous romp on the vast and beautiful Wrightsville Beach. We hooped and hollered and jumped in the surf saying “We’ve made it!” We are in palm tree, manitee and alligator territory.
But don’t feel alone, Canadians! We are wearing toques to bed tonight. Down to zero this evening. We’ve seen our breath the last two mornings. It seems to be an unusually chilly week coming up.
I experienced a proud first the other day. I went to the top of our mast (58 feet)! I’d love to say I clambered up self-propelled but actually I was HAULED up, in a harness, by the electric windless....and a haliard strapped around my mid-section for extra precaution. The reason for going up was a silly turn of events from the previous day. Annie and Alistair were determined to string our hammock up, even though we’ve told them numerous times we won’t do that until Bahamas. They got bored and we were desperate enough for them to occupy themselves any old way. They were successful but before going to bed they had to bring it down because we were expecting rain. We didn’t check their deconstruction work and, in the middle of the night, with howling winds and driving rain, I was being driven crazy by a line slapping inside the mast (which is right beside my head in bed). I knew something had been left loose up on deck and Mark mentioned he forgot to tighten a haliard the kids used for the hammock. So I grumpily threw on my rain gear and stumbled up on deck. Without giving it much thought, I pulled like heck on the loose haliard to tighten it up.... Any sailor knows, you never yank a haliard too hard before you’ve looked to confirm it’s secured to something (clipped on, at its end, to a shroud or something). Otherwise, if you yank on it un-secured, you’re hoisting it up into the air and once it’s high enough to be out of reach you’re out of luck. That is exactly what happened. By the time I realized what I’d done it was a third of the way to the top of the mast, swinging around in the wind. I grabbed our boat hook and extended it as long as possible (telescopic adjustments). I stood on the deck like a mad fool for atleast 20 minutes trying to snag the haliard with the boat hook. But it got caught up on the main sail’s lazy jacks and was totally out of reach. So, not only had I NOT fixed the slapping noise right by my head, I had to go to bed knowing I was heading up the mast to retrieve it the next day😒 I’ve been looking for a reason to test my constitution so now I had one. It was scary. I didn’t look down once. We need to put a windex on the top of the mast so I will go up again sometime soon.
We lucked out AGAIN with a cruising friends connection and rendezvoused for dinner in Wrightsville at friends’ of Mark’s aunt&uncle. There was a couple we’ve been meaning to connect with since Annapolis who we finally met at our anchorage. They brought us along to their cruising friends’ place for pizza. We had showers and did laundry and heard about a million fun things to look forward to in Bahamas:) Thank you Allan&Bev for putting us in touch with Lana&Robert and Val&Mino! It’s a privilege to be brought into this circle of friends. A really gracious bunch!
We are in Charleston now. We had a lovely walk through town today and tomorrow we may go to a plantation.
We’ve been cooking up a storm in our little galley! Mark has made cornmeal muffins and I baked our first loaf of boat bread the other day. Dahls, curries and quinoa salads, yum yum!
A Mouse and a Louse in our house
07 November 2019
A Mouse and a Louse in our House
Due to popular demand, your regular blog poster is back
We confirmed, on Sunday, that 3 out of 4 of us had lice!🙀. We had picked up lice shampoo the week before since I had suspicions then but an un-named member of our party thought I was being paranoid. Therefore, we didn’t deploy it until we could no longer deny it on Nov 3rd...the DAY before Mark’s parents arrived for a visit😬 and two days before Annie’s birthday. So halfway through our day we changed our destination. We needed to find a spot with laundry facilities on site so we could wash and dry our bedding ASAP, before the kids’ bedtime since we had treated our hair that afternoon. This meant going further for the appropriate accommodations, which meant we didn’t get in until after dark. A nerve-wracking approach with me shining a flashlight off the bow to spot un-lit day beacons that are only visible of flashlight picks up reflectors on them. We narrowly dodged a couple. As soon as we’d finished tying up I ran to the laundry with my sailbag full of contaminated stuff. On average, there have been atleast 5 or 6 letters that come home from school, each year, notifying us of a child with lice in our kids’ classes. We’ve always counted ourselves lucky that A&A have never contracted it. Now, go figure, we are isolated on a boat and we get lice. Not only that, we had to inform our new (and only) friends from s/v Oceo, with the 3 girls (with LONG hair) that they, too, may have lice. The day after Halloween the kids were all rolling about in blankets in a bunk. So we weren’t surprised to hear confirmation that they have it too. Oh, the shame! We are keeping our fingers crossed that Mark’s parents will escape from this un-scathed. We’ve sealed all the stuffed animals away in a plastic bag for 3 weeks and washed linens, etc twice now. Not a pleasant experience, ESPECIALLY on a sailboat😷.
Mark’s parents’ arrival was a successful surprise to the kids. Their reaction was priceless. Just as the four of us are starting to get a bit tired of each other, it’s nice to throw a couple of other people in the mix. Great to have some extra hands on deck as well.
Annie has reported that her Birthday was ‘pretty good for a boat birthday’. I, for one, can’t wait to celebrate my 40th Birthday on this boat. But, for a kid, it’s different. No Birthday party with all your pals, etc. So, as often happens in our family, we out the emphasis on food. Annie got Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast and, on our day route we pulled over to buy freshly caught shrimp and white perch from a packing facility. The fish were whole so, once we got underway again, I sat on the swim platform off our stern and gutted/cleaner the fish. (Practice for when we catch MahiMahi further south) Mark made us fish tacos for lunch. For dinner we had shrimp cocktail and shrimp pasta! Annie was a happy girl:)
Today, on our offshore trip, from Morehead City to Wrightesville, the kids got the pleasure of watching two🐬s playing in our bow 🌊 waves! Really up-close, super thrilling!
Yesterday morning we acquired an accidental pet mouse. Mark found mouse poo on the deck and, as he was telling us to close the companion way just in case, a mouse DROPPED from the open main hatch cover and onto our saloon floor! He scurried out of sight in the blink of an eye and we haven’t seen signs of him since! Alistair constructed a ‘humane’ trap to catch him live and Mark bought regular traps. ..... we’ll see if he ever turns up.....
Feeling too seasick to post a pick
Over and out
07 November 2019
Beth and I have joined M and M and family to surprise Annie for her tenth b'day. Great trip down we met them at Belhaven NC, somewhat in the boonies. We left the next am for a run to Oriental with some nice sailing along the way. We had a great birthday dinner and cake which had survived the trip well. As usual you meet some pretty interesting people along the way. A mouse managed to find his way aboard. Once on board there is virtually no chance of finding him so the kids are trying to fashion a humane trap before I buy an old fashioned one. Tonight we'll be staying in Morehead City at a restaurant dock for $20 as long as you eat there. We'll be dining with a family from Quebec who have three girls aged 4 - 9, great chance for the kids to practice their French. Tomorrow will be our final boat day as we head along the ICW, not sure if we'll be outside or not.
Pic of Annie being silly with her new birthday scarf
02 November 2019
We have begun the next phase of our trip: The Intra Coastal Waterway! The books we’ve been reading say cruisers should aim to be starting down the ICW by November 1st....we are right on the money:) Hurricanes generally tend to be tapered off by this time so it is safe to begin the migration south of Virginia.
Jazzy Lady hails from Norfolk and the couple we bought her from have become friends of ours. So on Wednesday the kids and I got settled with our 5 loads of laundry (all bedding included) and school work while Mark was lucky enough to be ferried around town by Beth, Jazzy Lady’s previous owner. After all the errands and cleaned laundry we were picked up for dinner by Beth and her husband Lenny. They had us for pizza at their house. It was really neat to feel we were completing a circle, in a way. Mark came down to Norfolk in May to pick up Jazzy Lady and sail her all the way up to Lake Champlain with his dad and our friends Denise and Christina. As most know, we weren’t exactly in love with the name she came with but we decided to let it grow on us instead of going through the mandatory rigamarole of légal and superstitious steps to change her name. After spending some time with Beth and Lenny we appreciate her name more because we’ve learned how much the name meant to them! One of their dogs is named Jazzy, their new motor cruiser is named Jazzy Lady, their car’s license plate says Jazzy and their internet password has jazzy in it. I believe it all stems from their love of jazz music. They had her for 10 years and toured every inch of Chesapeake Bay over that time. Her selling was a reluctant one for them because it was a result of health problems. They had her all kitted out for the exact same trip we’re making and then they were forced to change their plans. Seeing us with their old girl is bitter sweet for them but they are so pleased that we are taking her on the adventure they had planned to do. Of course Lenny and Mark could talk boat until the cows come home and the four of us had a really nice evening together (while the kids watched a movie). It’s always nice to have a positive experience after a significant monetary transaction and a bonus to have developed a personal relationship.
Halloween was a real success and surprisingly ‘normal’! The nearest neighbourhood was just a short dinghy ride away and it was, yet another LOVELY collection of old gorgeous homes, being ‘old town’ Norfolk. The kids’ even got to trick or treat with their new friends, Mathilde, Daphné and Livia. The last two nights have been in the single digits for temps but Halloween was a balmy 20 degrees at least! The one difference in tradition we noticed was that you don’t knock on doors, everyone home-owner is sitting outside their house, on the doorstep or in their lawn chairs. Lots of great decorations but not many jack-o lanterns, for whatever reason.
We toured the Battleship USS Wisconsin. Very impressive. She served in World War II in the Pacific and was de-commissioned after that. Then she was re-commissioned for Desert Storm in the early ‘90s. Mark could go in and on if he was reporting but....I’ll leave it at that:)
We left Norfolk yesterday after ANOTHER sleep-deprived night at anchor. Winds gusted up to 35 M/H. We faired fine in the end but our friends had another sail boat drag it’s anchor and hit them:( The boat had only a solo sailor on it and he didn’t wake up until his stern collided with their bow. They managed to push him off, in the process popping and deflating his dinghy! Awful for both parties involved but, ultimately our friends escaped the ordeal with just a few scratches to their gelcoat. Again, one may argue that we should have taken a slip but our OTHER friends (boy, we’re popular) even sustained damage at the dock they tied to because the winds were still so strong in the morning that, as they were leaving, they bent one of their stanchions on a piling.
Now, as I type (or tap, as it were) we are almost at the border to North Carolina, aiming for Coinjock today. The depth on the chart plotter is ranging from 3 feet under keel to 10 feet😬 Back to the shallow narrows.
Tomorrow we will be at Kitty Hawk, the birth place of aviation. We’ll walk the beach that the Wright Brothers made history on.
Photo is of A&A with Beth and Lenny’s dogs, Sailor and Jazzy. Boating fanatics? I think so:)
29 October 2019
We arrived, late Friday afternoon, at Solomon’s Island with just enough time for getting some wish list items from West Marine, followed by a lucky lift to the grocery store with a nice lady who over-heard us asking for directions. As I’ve said before, the exercise is critical on these provisioning walks so it’s best we aren’t offered rides very often but hard to turn them down when someone comes along.
We have fairly low capacity in our water (87 gallons, including our extra 20 gallons in the 5 jugs on deck) and waste tanks (27 gallons) compared to other sailboats our size. We figure we’ve been going through about 10 gallons of water per day. We often can’t justify using it for showers because we can’t always predict when we’ll have our next re-fill opportunity. So sometimes we go without a shower for 5 or 6 days😑 The water, for dishes or washing, gets heated by the engine so if you’re sailing or at anchor there’s nothing keeping that water hot. There is an option to turn on the water heater but that requires turning the inverter on and it drains the battery quickly. When we stay at a dock we can literally plug our boat in to ‘shore power’ but we avoid spending our money on dockage fees most of the time. We have solar panels that help to top up the batteries and we have a wind generator but it’s not useful to us yet because we’re trouble-shooting a few problems with it.
We had a long overdue shower at a nearby hotel on Saturday morning, then went to the local museum. The highlights were a Megaladon skeleton, 3 super active otters in a good-sized enclosure (for captivity standards) and some sting rays and skates in an aquarium. Also, the geology of the area was of great fascination. The surrounding cliffs have the best Miocene deposit in North America. The region is very well known for it’s 10 million year old fossil shark teeth, scallop shells and other marine treasures. On our way to the island we dropped our anchor, for an hour or so, on the west side of the Chesapeake and dinghied over to a good looking stretch with our hopes set high for fossil hunting! Alas, no Megaledon teeth were discovered but it was a fun hunt. The most surprising discovery, walking along the base of these steeply eroded cliffs, was that the rocks are actually extremely tightly packed hunks of clay. And every single one has a million fossils in it.
We arrived in Reedville, Virginia on Saturday evening. It is beautiful but STINKY! The town was built upon the menhaden fishing industry, which used to be widespread through the Chesapeake. Now the last remaining menhaden (fish meal and oil) processing factory is in Reedville, which is owned by Omega Protein, a company that produces Omega-3 fatty acids for animal and human protein products. Aside from this industry the town is a sleepy little village, especially now in the off-season, with another stunning collection of OLD homes kept in impeccable condition. I have to say, I don’t think I will ever tire of strolling through each and every one of these town centres. The 19th century charm never gets old. It’s like wrapping a warm blanket around yourself and sitting down for a good Downton Abbey session.
Mark has a first cousin twice removed (I’m a genealogy terminology geek) who lives in Reedville. She came on the boat for a quick visit, before taking us out to dinner, and brought her HOME-MADE crab dip with crab her husband caught with his own hands! Deelish. Judy and Linton were great. She is a biologist specializing in coral bleaching and he is a geologist. Judy has spent some time studying coral in the Bahamas, at a research centre formerly known as Lee Stocking. It is closed now but open to the public as a visitor’s centre. We will get to go there!
This morning we intended to head across Chesapeake Bay to an Island called Tangier. This is a highly recommended destination. No surprise, it’s a fishing, oystering and crabbing town but in the 18th century it was a farming community. Unfortunately land subsistence and erosion took a toll and, to this day erosion is literally causing the Island to sink into the sea. More people are forced off the island each year because of economic restraints, as well as physical shrinking of the island.
Tangier’s story is intriguing and it is supposed to be a gorgeous spot to visit but we had to turn south a half hour into our attempt to cross over to the island because the north winds were too strong and the narrow, shallow inlets at the island are known for being tricky to navigate. With the speed and direction of wind we weren’t comfortable attempting it. So we turned south and are now in Norfolk...gateway to the ICW!!! We will stay here for 3 days probably. Getting ready for the long, winding waterways ahead.
25 October 2019
After spending 5 nights in Annapolis it was TIME to move on! The pattern seems to be one day rain, one day sun lately so it feels like we were only half as productive as we could have been in the tourist department. Our first full day in Annapolis we simply mozied around and sought out the best restaurant to eat crab soup at. Other than that, our only accomplishment was finding Halloween costumes for the kids at a local second-hand charity shop. The thing about being on a long trip is that you are removed from the regular rat race of all those annual traditions that usually play out in a very similar way every year. Canadian Thanksgiving was the first and now Halloween coming up. You take away all the buzz at school from the kids’ friends discussing their brilliant costume ideas and the pressures from other parents bragging about their handy-work done on their homemade costumes or great deals found purchasing costumes 3 months ahead of time and all of a sudden (for me, if I’m honest) a big sigh of relief. No stresses over time crunch and expectations of producing the best costume of the year. I know it sounds awfully cynical but this is one of the reasons I’ve been excited for out trip: getting away from the societal rat race. Afterall, on a practical level, we have no idea where we’ll be on Oct 31st so we can’t make any commitments to the kids about what Halloween will look like. With that said, I’M the one who dragged us into the consignment shop and said “pick a costume, kids!” This is the first year the acquiring OF the costume has come BEFORE the idea FOR the costume. After the above rant, I must admit, even though I am NOT a particularly crafty person, I HAVE always taken pride in having a go at MOSTLY homemade costumes each year...a habit passed down to me by my Mother and Grandmother from my childhood costumes.
Back to the topic this blog is supposed to be on: sailing! Sunday poured rain so we did our shower, laundry and Internet Cafe day (though we’ve since succumbed to the temptation of a subscription for unlimited data). Mark and Annie are involved in the ongoing quest to install video-editing software for our new but lower-quality laptop so we can start producing some vlogs. Monday we had breakfast at a very eclectic diner with phenomenal, nation-renowned crab cakes. Then we walked it off on our long trek to the grocery store. In the afternoon we connected with a family friend of Mark’s parents. He and his wife are making their third sojourn down south on their live-aboard motor cruiser. They had us over for dinner that night and now the kids will never turn back: “No offense Mom and Dad but we prefer giant motor boats to our piddly sailboat” Tuesday was spent at the United States Naval Acadamy. A truly impressive tour. This is where the country ‘build leaders to serve the nation’. We went in for a full guided tour and it really was worth it. A bit long for the kids but they were troopers. We got to witness the impressive daily roll-call presentation in the main courtyard before the ‘midshipmen’ go in for lunch. The Acadamy was founded in the 1840s and became the Nation’s naval Acadamy in 1850. The first year saw 50 students and now the numbers are at about 4,500 with 600 faculty members. They host a four year post secondary academic program that is FULLY funded by the federal government. While I’ve never been a huge proponent for the astronomical emphasis the US puts on ‘defense’ funding, I have to admit, it was really inspiring, as the main message I walked away with was the values placed on developing well-rounded citizens with the highest level of duty, honour and loyalty to their community, locally, nationally and internationally. I feel cautious of what seems to be a fine line between government propaganda and the importance of respecting the extraordinary contributions made, over history and every day, by billions of people around the world who dedicate their lives and/or give their lives serving their country on behalf of the world’s civilians. After four years of “free” training and education, every student then owes 5 years of service, in the navy, to give back to their country. The whole experience of this institution was a lot to take in.
Finally yesterday we picked up anchor and headed south for St. Michael’s, on the east shore of the Chesapeake, a few hours away. We hosted cocktails with some new friends; our first young family! They are also from Quebec, with 3 girls, on a TWO year trip!
We all agree, St. Michael’s may be the most charming town we’ve ever been to. Lovely residential roads with cobblestone sidewalks and dozens of exquisitely-kept original homes dating back to the late 18th century. We had a ton of fun at their maritime museum, the highlights being on the renowned oyster and crab industries that date back to the mid 1700s. We could have stayed for another night or two but we’re feeling the pull to continue south to warmer climes. (Sorry to rub it in) We were aiming for the Solomon’s today but wind was against us and we had to turn in to an anchorage 30 miles short of our intended destination.
Photo: Thought it might be interesting for people to see where we are on the map
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