Thursday, Oriental NC

April 30th, 2009 john

Day: 194   Miles: 00    Total Miles: 2241

Monday was a day of new adventures.  It started with a visit to a dentist in Bayboro, a town not too far away.   The dentist, a she, was very good but the news was not so good.  The tooth that I had the root canal done in Ft Myers had split.  It had split down into the bone.  After she removed the broken piece, she announced that the tooth could not be saved.  This was traumatic news for this old sailor.  I had never lost a body part, except for baby teeth, and I still have two of them. 

Then she announced that I would have to wait until Thursday and have the tooth extracted by an oral surgeon.  Great news.  (Suffer through the healing, just so that we can cut it open again and have it heal all over again.)  I guess you can tell I am real sissy when it comes to pain. If fact when they asked if I was allergic to anything I said YES, PAIN.

Leaving there with a very sore mouth, Ed and Barbara escorted me over to the hospital.  I had a pain behind my knee and it was starting to affect my ability to move around.  As expected the process at the hospital was long.  They finally did an ultrasound on my leg to make sure that I was not having a blood clot.  Good news.  Blood still works fine.  Bad news, I have a “Baker’s Cyst”.  It is a sack of fluid that can build up behind the knee pressing on the nerves and tendons.  I left with the satisfaction that I was not going to die, and some pain pills, but nothing done about the cyst.  We are icing it and hoping it will go down on its own.

Tuesday Barbara and Debra went off shopping for the day, and I stayed on board and worked on my every growing “to do” list.

Wednesday, Ed and Debra took us by ferry over to Cape Lookout, one of the outer bank islands.   We saw wild horses, descendants of horses from the old shipwrecks on the shoals that extend 15 miles out to sea.  We walked the Eastern shore and found several bags of conks and shells.  The only bad news, walking in the sand did not do my leg any good.  That night I was a “hurt’ in puppy”. More ice.

Thursday it was back to New Bern NC to visit the oral surgeon.  After breaking my tooth into four pieces he finally got it all out.  I felt like a ball-field on a rainy day.  But what is done is done.  I am now back on the boat, mouth crying and leg protesting.  Good thing we have an ice maker on board.  If you could only see me now.  A towel of ice around my leg and another around my head.  I feel like a blooming idiot.  I made Barbara promise, no pictures!

Looks like we may be in Oriental a little longer then planned.

See “boat life” is very similar to regular life on land.

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Saturday, Beaufort, NC to Oriental NC

April 25th, 2009 john

Day: 189   Miles: 24    Total Miles: 2241

We had a short day planned for today and the weather was beautiful.  However we decided to leave early just to be able to use the currents to push us up the river in the morning.  We left, per the dock master’s suggestions and departed smoothly without incident.  Our first task was to go under the Beaufort Bridge, requiring an opening.  We arrived five minutes early for a scheduled opening and had no problems. Out we went, up another creek then back to rejoin the ICW as it wound it way up to the Neuse River.  The Neuse River is one of the widest rivers in the US and can be notoriously rough, but today it was like a big lake.  We entered the river and could see Oriental just across the waterway.

We reached the outermost channel buoy at Oriental harbor, slowly entering the channel, and then turned right behind the breakwater and headed to the end of the inlet to Oriental Marina and Inn.  After a front-in docking with no problem we stepped off, only to be greeted by two other boat couples who we had met previously on the loop.  Also there were two other DeFever, a 44 and a 47 in the small marina at the time so it was a great reception.  The marina is small and very quaint, with a pool, and great restaurant, and a Tiki bar for nightlife. It is located right at the middle of Oriental which is known as the Sailing Capital of North Carolina.  There was all kind of boats and activity.

We had been here by car once before to visit our son’s in-laws, Ed and Debra.  Within a few minutes of arrival we heard a call on the VHF radio for our boat and it was Ed, welcoming us to Oriental.  Within an hour they were visiting us on board the Emery El.  We made plans to share a special rib dinner at their home that evening.  That night Ed lent us his truck and we were able to go to church on Sunday morning and then over to brunch with them afterwards.  We are planning to stay here in Oriental for maybe up to a week and enjoy a little friendship and get some relaxation.  As I write, Barbara and I are sitting on the aft deck, (Barbara is really asleep in the chair while I slave over this document.)  What great weather, a light breeze, warm, jus the way it should be.

While we are here, we plan to get some things done on the boat and I have to run to the doctors tomorrow which may take up most of the day.  I am having problems with a tooth, so Ed got me an appointment tomorrow and then I also have developed a problem with pain behind by right knee.  I think we will go to the hospital in the afternoon and see what we can find out about it.  More later.

I know all of this is getting pretty long, so for those of you who are suffering though it, thank you.  It is a trip of a lifetime, I am very much enjoying sharing it.

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Friday, New River to Beaufort, NC

April 24th, 2009 john

Day: 188   Miles: 46    Total Miles: 2217

Fortunately, high tide was at 8:15. So we left the Marina at 7:45.  I had fretted all night about running aground on the way out.   There was very little room to turn a boat our size around, but I managed to back away from the dock, back down the fairway, then around the dock so that I would be pointed out bow first.  You don’t want to try to go in reverse across shallow ground.   No problem.  We went out and cleared everything and were back on our way north on the river.  We made the Onslow Beach swing bridge by 8:20 and only had to wait about 10 minutes for an opening.  This bridge is run by the US Marine Corp and is the start of the section passing through Camp Lejeune.  As we passed though the base, the land was very wild.  Then all of a sudden you would see an old abandoned tank, or truck or other old military equipment.  These are some of the targets that the Coast Guard boats were firing at yesterday as they did high speed passes down the river.

At the same time there were VHF radio warnings about a live fire exercise just off the coast at Onslow Beach.  Turns our there was one of our aircraft carriers just off the coast practicing.  All day were heard radio broadcasts warning boats away from the exercise area.  Then there were the booms.   This really presented us with a different part of Americana.

We continued our trip and were soon out of the military area heading for first Morehead City NC and then on to Beaufort NC.  I had studied the charts of this area carefully because it presented very complicated navigation.  As we entered into Morehead City, traffic picked up.  There were boats all around us of all sizes and shapes.  This also was a shipping channel but lucky for us, there were no inbound or outbound traffic.  From here we would have to navigate up the creeks into Beaufort NC. 

There were four different ways to enter Beaufort and I chose what I though would be a very conservative way in for our size boat.  We left the ICW as we entered the “turning basin” and turn out toward the Atlantic.  We went down channel to a juncture of the channel and a creek by Radio Island.  The cut was very well marked but the first two sets of red and green buoys were very close together causing us to hesitate.  In we went and found plenty of depth.  After successfully passing these two sets of buoys the new channel widened out and was easy to follow.  Around several bends and there we were in front of Beaufort Town Dock.  The dock master was very helpful and directed us forward into a slip against the strong current.  It took two tries but in we went with no problems.  We tied up and went for a walk and a late lunch in Beaufort.  (In NC Beaufort is pronounced “Bofort”.  Back in SC the Beaufort was pronounced “Bufort”.  When you get on the radio and call in, you have to pronounce it correctly or they tend to ignore you.  Right next to us, tied to the outside of the dock was an 80 foot Coast Guard Cutter on liberty.  It was interesting talking to all of the young crew members as they came and went from their ship.

The winds had stopped and with a bright sunny day it felt like the first day of spring.  The marina gave us two free chits for beers or soda at the bar right on the dock, so I could resist the opportunity to go have a few beers and rub elbows with some of the locals.  I sat at the bar next to a guy who worked on the big dredge and crane barges.  It was a very interesting conversation.  He had worked on the barges that raised the airliner from the Hudson a few months back.  It was worth the couple of beers.

Then back on the boat, I lit a cigar, sat on the back deck and read a book.  This is what cruising should be like.  The dock master soon appeared and asked if I would be leaving in the morning.  He shared good advice as to how I should maneuver against the morning current to get out without incident, advice well received.


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Thursday, Wrightsville Beach NC to New River

April 23rd, 2009 john

Day: 187   Miles: 36    Total Miles: 2171

Now the tides had cycled forward and we had no choice but to leave at 6:45 with a falling tide.  It was an easy off the dock, but got a little exciting because we were right next to a bridge that had to be opened.  I had talked to the bridge tender on the radio about an opening, but another boat had come up, which I did not see and he opened early.  So off the dock we were in a hurry, swinging into the river, playing the current, spinning around and through the bridge.  One could make the false assumption that I actually knew what I was doing.  A new day had begun.

This was going to be a short day, because new shoals had been reported at the New River junction and the report was this same week.  I chose to stop just before the New River so that I could leave just before high tide and manage a safe passage.  I called the marina for reservations, told him my length, width, and draft and he said no problem.

We arrived at 10:45, called the marina and started to go into its channel.  All of a sudden the boat started to run sideways.  There was a wind, but after all we had been through, I did not think it would have such an impact.   I backed up and out in a hurry trying not to let the current grab me, realigned the boat and tried it again.  And again I had troubles.  The third time I tried the right hand side of the channel and made it in and to the dock.  The dock master said, “Good job mate, sometimes there is a little build up of muck right there.”  I was not a happy camper. 

We had arrived at Swan Point Marina.  The dock master gave me the names and phone numbers for two local restaurants that would be happy to come pick us up.  Barbara chose to cook on board.  Fine with me.  We were the only transient boat in the marina so it was a quiet night.

In the afternoon about eight Coast Guard inflatable patrol boats came into the marina with funds mounted fore and aft.  They were there to fill up with fuel.  I found out that they had been on training exercises at Camp Lejeune Marine base, just about seven miles upstream.  The ICW had been closed for three days and then temporarily opened every four hours for passage.  We had heard the gunfire from afar and all day long there had been announcements on the VHF radio announcing the closing.  We were very worried about how it might affect our schedule.  As it happened, the exercises had just concluded.  We were fortunate in again.  Guess we need to look hard for a church this Sunday.

I took advantage of a 1.89 fuel price and added 600 gallons to our tanks.  We would be set for a while.  Now, to plan for tomorrow!

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Wednesday, Southport NC to Wrightsville Beach NC

April 22nd, 2009 john

Day: 186   Miles: 32    Total Miles: 2135

The big debate today was whether to leave at 6:45 am and run a falling tide or to wait until the 2:00 pm and ride with a rising tide.  Rising tides are always better because if you run aground you have a chance to get off as the tide continues to rise. 

Then at first light the next morning, as soon as my cabin lights went on, I received a radio broadcast from Footloose.  They had decided over the night to remain in port a couple more days and were going to rent a car and go back to St Augustine FL to retrieve there own car, which they had been moving along the trek.

Well it was time to part ways.  And I redid my calculations and chose to leave in the afternoon on the rising tide.  I chose to leave at 3:00 just to give me added depth when going through what I thought would be the shallowest area.  That would still give us enough light to get into a marina.

As the day went on, waiting to depart became a real problem.  The weather forecast was showing no rain or storms, but the forecast was for high winds.  Waiting around until 3:00 pm to depart gave us too much opportunity to second guess our decision.  Should we wait another day for the winds to die down?  Our boat has always handled well in the weather and even thought the winds were forecast to be 25 to 30 knots with gusts to 35, the wind was forecast out of the Southwest.  We would be going up the Cape Fear River, a very large river, for about two hours but it looked like the winds would be coming off the shore and therefore there would be little fetch. (The distance the wind blows over the water.)  That would mean that even with strong winds, the waves should not be very big.  If we waited we would have tide problems again, so we decided to depart.

The Emery El was off north again.  It just seemed different to be traveling alone for the first time in a couple of weeks.  All went well.  Barbara is getting very good at reading charts and keeping track of where we are and what is coming up.  We are becoming a good team, and I guess that is what this is all about.

The day went very well.  We entered the Cape Fear River and as predicted the winds were strong.  We have an anemometer on board and it showed sustained winds of 35 mph with guest to 45 mph.  Windy!  However the Emery El held her own. On the gusts we could fell her roll a little bit, but nothing uncomfortable.  And we were cozy in our pilothouse with all the doors closed.  Just don’t think of going outside. We held track pretty good and went up the Cape Fear.  As expected the waves did not build so we rode just fine.  The only tense moment was a two mile run through a very narrow channel in open water from the Cape Fear back to the ICW into the cut.  There were predicted shallows at the cut but I knew the wind would blow the water to that area making them even deeper.  We made it though all of the low spots with no problems. 

Later in the day there was one juncture of the ICW and the Bogue Inlet from the sea where we had to stop the boat, re-check and re-check the charts and then make a decision.   There was a red buoy that was in front of us but not on the charts. To make is worse, it was on the wrong side of the channel.  The buoy was not on the paper charts or on the electronic charts.  But after studying the situation we finally determined what it meant and then very carefully crept by.  It just made for some exciting moments.   Gotta have some special event just to be able to tell a good story.

We arrived at Bridge Tender Marina in Wrightsville Beach just around 6:00pm and all was well.

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Sunday, Myrtle Beach SC. to Southport, NC

April 19th, 2009 john

Day: 183   Miles: 39    Total Miles: 2103

We traveled most of the day in man-made canals.  That means they were straight and boring.  But onwards we went.  Our next stop would be St James Plantation Marina, about 7 river miles south of Southport, NC.  Hurray, Barb and I slapped five, we had made it to North Carolina, a state that we had lived in and loved very much.  The marina was nice and was part of an extensive resort/retirement community. Jim and Sandy from Footloose wanted to see the area so they rented a car and asked us to join them on some adventuring. 

Sunday we went to Southport and walked around. What a delightful town.  Barbara and I both really loved the setting.  It is located right on the Cape Fear River with its outlet into the Atlantic and several barrier islands could be seen from the shore.  We found info on a walking tour at the visitor’s center and then proceeded to do the tour by car.  Three of us were having leg problems and the walking would have been too much.

The next day Jim and Sandy had to have some medical problems checked out, so they dropped us at the ferry and Barbara and I went out to Bald Head Island.  It was about a half hour ride out on the twin hulled ferry and what a delight.  I had a big smile of my face when I saw Barbara watch how the ferry maneuvered through the harbor and tied up, etc.   We are going to make a “young salt” out of her yet.

Upon arriving at the island we rented our own golf cart for a couple hours.  We drove over to see the historical lighthouse “old baldy” on the island and then went the length of the island to get to the East most beach where we spent some time “shelling”.  We came back with two bags filled with shells.

After a delightful lunch on the island we checked in our golf carts and caught an afternoon ferry back to Southport.  Timing again was great.  Jim and Sandy had just finished their medical visits and were able to come and pick us up.

The rest of the day was spent on planning.  What lies ahead?  How long will it take us to get there?  What will the tides and currents be?

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Saturday, Georgetown SC to Myrtle Beach SC.

April 18th, 2009 john

Day: 182   Miles: 52    Total Miles: 2064

We left Georgetown along with our friends Jim and Sandy on Footloose with the tides in our favor.  There were several low spots that we watched very carefully. Other then the tedium of watching every moment, to be sure not to wonder off track, it was a non eventful day.

We had arrived at our destination at “Barefoot Landing”, just outside of Myrtle Beach SC.  What a beautiful spot to visit.  Everyone along the way said that it was a must stop. I can see why.   There is a very long dock along the river that you pull up to, tie up, and plug in.  (And of course pay).  Then on the bank next to you are a very large outdoor shopping area with many stores, restaurants, bars, and even a theater with live performances. (Usually they have a variety show with one named star.)  Barbara and I went ashore to contribute our share to the local economy.  We ended up splurging for dinner and had steaks at Greg Norman’s Australian Grill.

The next morning we were off again, and as it turns out, none too soon.  This is the same “Barefoot Landing” that you may have seen in the news on TV this last week.   It is where the wildfires broke out and over 200 hundred homes burned.  We missed it by one day. Thank the good lord for taking care of us.  I knew there was a reason why I kept looking for churches for Sunday Services.  We had friends that arrived at Barefoot the afternoon after we left and they were woken up at 3:00 in the morning as asked to cast off.  They ended up closing a big section of the Intracoastal Waterway due to the fires and visibility restrictions due to the smoke.  Again we were very thankful to have made it through.

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Friday, Charleston to Georgetown SC

April 17th, 2009 john

Day: 181   Miles: 67    Total Miles: 2012

Well we passed the 2000 mile barrier, which makes us approximately one third the way around the loop.

Anticipating a long day we were underway at 7:30, attempting to leave just before low tide so that when it would turn around we would be back in the narrow rivers and getting a push from the incoming flood tide. Crossing the big Charleston harbor can be a harrowing experience with all of the big ships coming into the harbor, etc.  But there were no ships in site, except at the wharfs, and the sailors/racers had not risen yet so we had the harbor pretty much to ourselves.  We passed the USS Yorktown, a retired aircraft carrier on our port and the famous Fort Sumter on our starboard.  The captain only got a quick glance, for he was busy navigating buoys.

We exited the harbor at Sullivan’s Island and reentered the ICW’s winding path north.

It was a long and beautiful day.  This part of the ICW is mostly man-made, therefore consists of very straight “ditches” that join many of the small rivers that flow to the ocean.  It was South Carolina “low-country” at its best, watching the waves of wind blowing over the sea-grass as far as you could see.   On the Charlestown end of the trip there were beautiful old homes with double staircases and verandas overlooking the water.  Long, several hundred foot piers extended out from the homes into the water.  This is truly a beautiful part of our country.

As we proceeded north there were less and less homes and more and more nature.  The winds were fierce so we had to pay close attention so that we were not blown out of the narrow channels.  The water was pretty “skinny” (shallow) so it kept our attention.   At one point we heard a thud and all hands were alert.  This part of the river was loaded with crab-traps.  They are supposed to keep them clear of the channel, but….!  I had been driving around them all day but I think we must have hit one.  I have line cutters mounted just before the props, so I think I put them to use, better then wrapping them around a prop.

We arrived at Georgetown about 3:45 in the afternoon, so we were able to walk down main street before it rolled up at 5:00.  The town was beautiful with a lot of history.  It is the third oldest town in South Carolina next to Charleston and Beaufort.  Eddie found a cigar shop so we stopped and had a cigar and beer and listen to music while sitting on an old porch overlooking the waterfront.

Eddie’s wife arrived by car to retrieve her husband, so we sat for a few minutes on the back of the boat and enjoyed a short visit.  This was the first time we were able to sit out in days, due to the heavy winds.

Upon Eddie’s departure, Barbara and I recaptured our solitude on the boat.  We sure do enjoy having traveling companions but I would be lying if I said that we did not also enjoy our boat to ourselves.

Tomorrow we plan on a run to Myrtle Beach SC.  I have not been there since my college days.  You think it will be different? 

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Thursday, Bohicket to Charleston

April 16th, 2009 john

Day: 180   Miles:  47   Total Miles: 1945

We had a choice to make, should be jump outside and make the short run to Charleston via the Atlantic, or do we backtrack to the ICW and cross on the inland route.  We weather was clear, but was forecasted to be a bit windy, so we chose the inside route. (This turned out to be a great decision, because later in the day winds got up to 30 mph with gusts to 40, and that was on the inland track.  Waves of 6-8 feet were reported on the outside.)

We left Bohicket at 8:00 a.m. at close to slack tide and proceeded back down the creek then up the river, and north onto the ICW. We were still traveling with Jim and Sandy from Footloose. There were some extremely narrow spots and some buoys that did not agree with the charts, but we took our time and navigated without incident. (I probably will not always be able to say that!) 

We finally broke out of the very narrow Elliot Cut into the Charleston waterfront at a little after noon and tied up at a very large but nice city marina. There were ships, and boats of all sizes and types. Busy, busy. Also we were to find out that this was the big weekend for the Charleston Regatta, one of the biggest sailing events of the season.

The city marina was very nice. It was so big that they sent a golf cart to pick us up and bring us to the office to pay.  They also provided a van service to take us to the market in Charleston, where we helped the local economy.  We had a wonderful late afternoon dinner at Justine’s Kitchen. (not fancy, but highly recommend) then walked the waterfront before being picked up to go back to the marina for cigars and wine in the cockpit. (Excuse me, the back porch).  Another very nice day, although the air was a bit brisk.

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Wednesday, Beaufort, SC to John’s Island

April 15th, 2009 john

Day: 179   Miles:  49   Total Miles: 1908

We ended up staying in Beaufort SC for a couple more days due to weather.  It was ten days total, but it sure went fast.  Our friends Bob and Claudia were gracious enough to lend us one of there cars for the duration of our stay in Beaufort.  One day, Jim and Sandy from Footloose   joined us and we drove back to Savannah.  We walked around the waterfront and the market and then took a small bus tour of the historic district.  Savannah is truly a very beautiful city and will always rank high on my list of US cities.

We also took advantage of the time and car and went to the grocery several times, to Loews several times, not to mention a dozen other little stores where we needed to re-supply.  For example, Barbara has gotten into “beading” making beautiful necklaces and bracelets.  So she had to re-supply.  Ouch!  Barbara and the girls went to Charleston one day on a “shopping” run.  Plus I chopped away at a few projects that had stacked up.  I also made another macramé plant hanger for the “back porch” to replace the one I had given away in Titusville.  Believe me, we kept busy.

After church on Easter Sunday, our friends Jim and Sandy joined us for a wonderful Easter Dinner over at Bob and Claudia’s, with their two adult daughters.  After dinner, we settled in to watch the exciting finals of the Master’s golf tournament.

We had planned to depart on Monday, but the weather forecast for Monday and Tuesday did not look great.  So what the heck?  More shopping!  And guess what?  I found ANOTHER perfect hat.  It is a plain black Irish ship captain’s hat.  Gotta love it!

The town of Beaufort (pronounced bu-fort) is a wonderful little town to visit.  I had an “old town” main street right along the water front with plenty of shops and restaurants.  We took a buggy tour and received a great history lesson of the area. All in all it was a very pleasant place to stay with one exception.  The winds were above 30 mph the entire time we were there.  I thought the winds would never stop.

Today, we finally pulled out and waved goodbye to our friends.  (Well some of them.)  We had picked up two stow-a-ways.  Bob had decided that he wanted to travel the rivers for one day.  Joining him was Eddie, a good friend of Bob’s and a friend that I have made over the years sharing golf adventures and especially annual fly fishing trips.  Barbara was in her glory.  With all the men-folk in the pilothouse, she served trays of munchies and then settled down to read her book while we traveled.  She does not get much time off during our normal travel days.

Marinas are few between Beaufort and Charleston.  Our choices were to make it a long day and go directly to Charleston or to become adventurous and navigate down the North Edisto River toward the ocean and then turn up Bohicket Creek to a little marina located on its eastern banks.  It was about 6 miles off our course (1 hour) but the description in the guidebook looked intriguing. We chose the latter alternative, taking a starboard turn, down the river and then up the creek without a paddle.  On the charts, the navigation looked pretty safe, but we were worried about the current in the creek.  It could get up to 6 mph and in a 9 mph boat that is a lot.  We checked and rechecked our tide books and it looked like we would be entering and exiting at good times, so a new adventure began.

Upon arrival we were pleasantly surprised.  The navigation had been very straight forward and the current low as predicted.  The marina, Bohicket Village Marina, was new construction, surrounded by condos and little shops. It looked like a little oasis in the middle of the South Carolina “low-country”.  Turns out it is right next door to the Seabrook/Edisto Beach retirement resort/

And just as we arrived we had the best surprise of all.  I received a cell phone call from friends, Carl and Margo, from Cincinnati OH who have been following our trip. They have their own plane and had just flown into Kiawah Island SC and were curious to know where we were.  It turns out that they were less then 10 miles away.  They came over and we had a good time with afternoon cocktails and stories of the past and future.

Claudia also arrived by car to retrieve Bob, but Eddie decided to stay a couple more days and talked his wife into coming to get him farther up the trip.

Barbara cooked a good supper and we retried for the evening.

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