Sunday, April 22, 2012

We're Finally Underway - April, 2012

April 8, 2012

After many years of dreaming and planning we finally got underway on our odyssey on Easter Sunday morning, April 8, 2012.  It was a beautiful sunny day and perfect for the start of our trip.  It was the end of a long (very long) few weeks of packing, moving, selling, donating, and generally disposing of a few items we have been collecting for years.  Far too many things got stored instead of disposed of but, that is for another time.  Don and Sam were there to help with the lines and see us off.  Thanks for the help.

The trip to Beaufort, SC was very relaxing.  Ariana Field was with us to share the trip as far as Charleston.  We left at 7:30 and took about 9 hours.  We waved hi to Dick Mason at the South Harbor docks as we went by.  For those who are interested, it was 71.6 miles and we made an average speed of 8 mph.  Great trip.

Jim's Joy II

Jim's Joy II

Jim's Joy II

Don & Sam Munn seeing us off Easter Sunday

Ariana Field sharing part of our trip at least to Charleston

April 9, 2012

On to Charleston,  SC.  Ariana is still with us and we are having a great time.  Breeze has picked up on the Coosaw River north of Beaufort and the sound is pretty choppy.  The wind started to die down later in the afternoon and the ride was very good once off the sound.

Trip 66.3 miles at 8.6 mph avg speed, max 13.4 mph, 7:43.

Ariana left us this afternoon and we will miss her.  Mike, Brenda and Shaun, The McDowells, came to visit us at the City Marina.  We had dinner and planned for Mike to join us for the next leg or two.  We made the next day a work day.  Rebuilt the vacuum pump on the forward head and straightened up the boat some.  Mike joined us this pm in anticipation for the next leg.

Sean, Mike & Brenda McDowell

The birds were every where

We were surrounded by Dolphin most of the day

April 11, 2012

Off to Georgetown, SC.  Blue skies but, very breezy.  Finally made our way through Charleston Harbor and back into the ICW.  Good trip.

Trip 67.11 miles at 9.0 mph avg speed, max 11.0 mph 7:28.

Fueled up 122.4 gal at 3.799 per gal.  OUCH!!! Actually that is a pretty good price.  We went 231 miles which equates to 1.89 mpg.  You're probably doing much better than that even in your Dodge Ram 3500 or what ever.  I on the other hand am ecstatic as I predicted only about 1.0 mpg. 

April 12, 2012

Mike went home this morning.  We're gonna miss him.  I've got a battery and charger transformer for an Icom radio that I need to send to him.  I can't use it and I'm paying for diesel to haul it around.  Gotta go.  The Wacamaw River, which is the trip to Myrtle Beach is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!  I highly recommend that you take this trip if you ever get a chance.  Scenery is beautiful and the water is flat.  Tied up at Barefoot Landing (not the marina).  Not much amenities, but convenient.

Trip 52.1 miles at 7.7 mph, max 9.7 mph, 6:45.

April 13, 2012

Work day.  Rode the bikes to Wal-Mart and Bass Pro shop down the road.  Picked up some misc. items we needed and some we didn't.  Had a the front starboard isinglass panel picked up by a local shop and restitched where the sewing was coming loose.  I wanted to get it fixed before it was really damaged by wind.  The guy came and picked it up, took it to his shop and repaired it, and returned it to the boat.  Total charge $30.00.  If you need his name I'll be glad to give it to you.  GREAT service and job.

The cats have started to settle in to the routine of boat life.  Now that they have been out for a few days they have found their own particular place to hide and lounge.  For Midnight it was behind the TV in the Master Suite.  He could peek out the window at things outside and not care a bit what they were doing.  For Mischief it was in the storage compartment on the front of the bridge.  He could hide there and come and go when he wanted.  For Trouble it was under the covers of the Master Berth.  He will crawl under the covers and stay there ALL day long and not come out.  What a weird cat.  I don't think he will ever join the real world.  We don't have a picture of him yet as he stays under the covers all the time.



April 14, 2012

On to Southport, NC.  The sun is out, the wind is above normal, the boat is running FINE!  (Knock on wood)  The trip was uneventful and the way you would like it.  The entrance to the marina was a little tricky, but "No worries mate".  Got in with no issues.

Trip 44.8 miles at 8.0 mph, max 10.6, 5:37.

Stayed here for 3 days.  Pretty little town.  Joy and I rode our bikes all over the place.  Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware which was at least 3 times farther than what they told us (I think about a total of 10 miles back and forth).  We are really getting our exercise.  I'm still losing weight.  Had a great stay.  Marina was expensive, but we needed a place to get some things done and it's a pretty little town.

April 17. 2012

Plan to head maybe to Topsail this morning.  Skipped Wilmington.  Just felt that we needed to get up the road a little.  Passed Topsail as the trip was going so well and finally stopped at Swan Point Marina and Boat Yard.  I think the area is called Sneeds Ferry.  This is not much of a marina.  They put us in the slip used for the boat hoist.  It is very tight.  I don't see how I am going to get it back out in the morning and there will not be any dock hands around.  SOOOOO, we backed her out of the slip, turned her around and backed her back in the slip again.  I swear there was not 5' from the bow or the stern when we spun her around.  I can't believe I didn't hit anything.  I must be getting a little better at driving this bus.  Didn't take any pictures of this place as I don't think I want to remember it.

Trip 62.1 miles at 8.6 mph, max 17.9 mph (had to make a run to a bridge when the Tender called), 7:15.

April 18, 2012

On to Beaufort, NC.  (Boooooofort not Buuuufort).  A little gray at the start of the day.  Got a little nicer but more windy as the day went along.  Got to the City Marina, pumped out and tied up.  Nice place.  Pretty town.  Plan to be here two days.  I did not know, but they have an island with horses similar to Cumberland.  Kind of neat seeing them across the creek walking around.  This is the most expensive place so far.  Nice but expensive.

Trip 46.3 miles at  8.4 mph avg, max 11.0 5:34.

There is a horse over there some where

A horse here too.

April 19, 2012

Still in Beaufort, but this needs to go into the don't believe everything they tell you file.  Joy and I walked around town this morning looking at the houses and stuff.  Great job in preserving some of it.  We decided that we could walk to the Food Lion that they had said was only a mile up the street.  First, the street is at the other end of town.  Then, the Food Lion is about a mile from a major intersection about two miles from the waterfront.  Long story short, I think we walked about 20 miles total today.  Almost half was with backpacks full of food, milk, etc.  I refused to buy the beer until I got back to the waterfront.  I like beer but, I don't want to carry it 4 to 5 miles.  What a hike!

Sam - make Don get you a couple of these - one for each side of the stairs!

April 20, 2012
Gonna head to Oriental, NC. After thinking over the situation I decided that we needed some more provisions on board. Learned my lesson yesterday and got the loaner from the Dockmaster and drove back to the Piggly Wiggly. Picked up some Cat litter, water, beer and other misc. stuff and drove back the the boat. Lot easier than yesterday. May be getting smarter in my old age (Joy says maybe not since she wanted the car yesterday).

Left about 10:00. Right behind Sea Safari. Boy that thing is pretty. Cloudy morning but will clear up later in the day. Real smooth trip till we got to Pamlico Sound and it was a little wavy. Nothing big (til Mischief threw up), but it is the first time we have had anything above a chop. Sun came out about noon and we got to Oriental and tied up to the dock about 1:00. Short day on the water and then got the bikes out and rode around the town for a couple hours.

Trip 24.8 miles at 8.6 mph avg, max 10.6 mph, 2:53.

I don't care for the bright lights

Trouble the undercover kitty came out to eat!

April 24, 2012

Had a nice stay in Oriental.  The Marina and Motel were very accomidating.  The facilities are not new, but the management appear to try to pay attention to details.  The facility had a fresh looking coat of paint and was attractive.  The restarant was very good even though we only had one meal there.  Joy  decided to do some cooking which as always was wonderful.  We arrived on Friday and planned to spend the weekend.  We ended up staying another day due to weather.  Sunday it rained.  Monday was generally unpleasant so we stayed.  The weather man kept forecasting high winds for the area.  It looks as though it might be delayed until about Wednesday or maybe even Thursday.

We left on Tuesday thinking that the forecast was probably worse than reality.  When we left it was pretty calm.  Light winds and blue cloudless skies.  We were WRONG!.  Weatherman was RIGHT!  We were going to stop in Belhaven.  Got there so early, about 11:00 that we decided to keep going.  Another wrong decision.  Almost no marinas between Belhaven and Albermarle Sound.  We ended up doing 99.2 miles at 9.6 mph avg., 11 mph max., 10:20.  Finally stopped at the Alligator River Marina just before you enter the Albermarle Sound.  Kicked our butts.  Very long day.  Bumpy seas.  Not fun.

Gene and Ginny from "Free To B" were at the marina.  Had dinner with them and met another couple who are going to the Rendevous aboard "Karma".  They are both Captains and have lived aboard for several years.  Wonderful couple from Miami.  Have 2 cats aboard.  I think theirs have more at sea experience than ours.  At dinner Joy changed our itinerary to go to Coinjock instead of doing the Great Dismal Swamp.  Something about a 32oz. prime rib.

Bought fuel.  182 gals. at $3.929 per gal.  You do the math.  Not your average fill up at the gas station, but could be a lot worse.  Averaged 1.81 mpg.  Still pretty good.

That barge just kept getting bigger and bigger.  We are told it will be small compared to what we find in Mississippi

April 25, 2012

Winds are supposed to be down today to 10 to 15 out of the West.  Weatherman was WRONG.  We left about 8:30 headed for Coinjock.  The Albermarle Sound does NOT like West winds.  It was BUMPY and took about 2 hours to cross.  I think the winds were about 20 to 25 kts.  Rough ride.  Lots of rocking and rolling and our 2 oldest cats were sick most of the day with Joy doing clean-up again and again (cats not happy - Joy really not happy).  Thankfully short day.  37.6 miles at 8.3 mph avg., max 11, 4:30.

Arrived about 1:00 and made reservations for dinner.  This Prime Rib better be good.  The weather is calling for 25 to 30 kt. winds for tomorrow and 60% chance of rain.  We will probably stay an extra day or two in Coinjock - at least my beer will last til we can find another grocery store.  I wonder if they have a pool hall?

Home of the 32oz prime rib.

It has been a rainy day and Jim has been bored.

April 26, 2012

Winds are up to 25kts and the forecast calls for rain again.  We are staying put.  Gonna get some things done on the boat.  Does not seem to be much to do around here.  Have a water leak on the starboard engine.  Small about a pint of clear water under the engine.  Of course I also have oil leaks.  They are afterall diesels and they are very small leaks.  Would like to find the water leak.  This engine heats the domestic water while it is running so that we can have hot water without running the generator.  I think the water is fresh water.

Have had some other traffic pass the marina and here are some more pictures.  Like I said, there is not much to do around here other than relax or work on the boat.  Same thing.

This is the tugboat that had been pushing the barge we took pictures of several days earlier going the other direction.

Jim says "never agin does he want to do this" (although I never knew you needed to cut the roads - this may just be his transportation)!

Another tugboat pushing a double barge this time.

April 27, 2012

The weather man says that the winds are supposed to die down some time today.  All of the other boats that we have been traveling with the last few days are going on.  We're going to stay another day.  I just don't feel real froggy.  Besides, we don't have to be in Norfolk, Va for over a week.  It's only about 50 miles and I see no need to be in a hurry.

We do have one major problem, however.  We are out of moist cat food.  I can't get Joy to wein these cats off this stuff.  I just know that it would be a lot easier if we did not have to deal with it.  A.J., one of the dock hands loaned us his Jeep so that we could go into Grandy, NC where they have a real Food Lion.  He wouldn't take a tip, but his Jeep was out of gas.  Cured that problem.  And Joy got a Hardee's hamburger for lunch.  Got lots of good things done on this road trip.
I am dreaming of where my next meal is coming from

Hurry Mom we are about to starve - put our food up here NOW!

April 28, 2012

The forecast for today calls for 10 mph winds, NE, cloudy skies.  30% chance of rain.  Joy and I have decided to back track a little bit and go to Elizabeth City and continue to the Dismal Swamp canal.  We left about 7:00 and things went along pretty much as planned.  Weather picked up a little, but not too bad.  It was a short trip so we got there and pulled in to the Pelican Marina.  This is the cheapest place we have been yet.  Not much of a marina, but the piling seem to hold.

Trip 39.3 miles @ 9.1 mph avg., max 10.8, 4:17.

Joy and I went for a walk across the bridge into town.  Not much here either, but this place does have a pretty good reputation and a few thing going for it.  First, this is the home of the Rose Buddies.  Also, there are many city run and maintained free docks for recreational boaters.  The Rose Buddies, for many years would greet boaters traveling the ICW, give the ladies roses and open the wine bar.  This is supposedly the most cordial town for recreational boating travelers.  The weather is kind of nasty today and the Rose Buddies have died.  The City still runs the free docks and I heard them over the radio calling passing boaters offering a free dock and a hot shower.  Not a bad deal.  I think our boat is too wide for their slips .

There is also a large Coast Guard Aviation Base here.  There appears to be a very close relationship between the USCG and the local establishment.  On the main waterfront drag there is a large Museum of the Albermarle and it has a large CG exhibit.  They also had an in the water helicopter rescue just outside of the museum which naturally looks over the Waterfront  Park.  I get the feeling you should not get into a disagreement with a Coastie in a bar.  Most of the other folks in the bar are probably going to be sympathetic to your opponet.  Not good for an "out of towner".

Walked back to the boat and the wind has picked up considerably.  Spent about an hour or longer keeping the boat off the piling.  Winds have shifted to SE and are comming straight up the river.  The boat is jumping all over the place.  Storm finally moves on and no damage done.

Back to the water leak.  Before we left Coinjock I shut off the valves to the water heater from the starboard engine thinking this might give some indication where the water was coming from.  When I checked, the leak has increased considerablely and now it is antifreeze and not fresh water.  Time to really get serious with this problem.

Otherwise, the wine is VERY good.

Coming into Elizabeth City, NC

Free Museum - was pretty interesting

Episcopal Cemetery - 1828

Former Governor of NC

Proud of the Confederacy

Coast Guard Demonstration of rescue

April 30, 2012

Major catastrophe!  Some how the door to the Forward Head (Bathroom for you land lubbers) got closed last night.  Those of you with Cats know that when cats are separated from their litter boxes they get outright indignant and make sure you know what the problem is.  So we had some laundry to do this morning before we left for the Dismal Swamp.  Got the washing done onshore and finished the drying onboard and were able to make the 8:30 bridge opening.  If we had missed that opening we probably would have had to wait another day.  That would not have been too bad but I was anxious to move on.  Elizabeth City is a nice town and we will come back if we can but, I wanted to go.  As we were waiting for the bridge, another boat named "Great Mates" came out of the City docks and got in front of us.  We followed them the entire day.  That was nice as I did not have to spend time looking at the depth finder.  The river is very narrow, curvy and not real deep.  It is also very beautiful and rugged looking.

Found and repaired the water leak.  There is a hose on the raw water intake that was leaking around a clamp.  While Joy was driving, I went down and put an additional clamp on and the problem was solved.

We had to wait about 30 minutes at the lock at the southern end of the Dismal Swamp canal before we locked through.  There were 4 boats, 2 sail and 2 power.  When we were through locking up, we followed Great Mates out of the lock ahead of the two sails.  There is a 6mph speed limit on the canal, but neither of them could maintain that speed.  So off we went to the Welcome Center.
Dismal Swamp

More Dismal Swamp

Grouchy Captain telling his 1st Mate to look for logs instead of taking pictures

Some more Dismal Swamp

Boats all coming up to the welcome center getting ready to raft together

1st Mate Dixie waiting for her lunch

Got to the welcome center and rafted up to Great Mates.  All of the other room on the dock was taken.  A short time later, "Morning Winds", one of the sailboats arrived and rafted up to the outsinde of us.  Then Great Mates told us that he was not staying the night and since the Welcome Center was closed, wanted to leave.  It took a little rigging, but we got him out without having to fire up the engines and move off.

Joy and I went for a walk on the board walk across the bridge for the Dismal Swamp information center (not the NC Welcome Center).  Joy was not very interested in looking for any of the local snake species.  Nice boardwalk.  Short fun walk.

That evening we got better aquainted with Don and Mickie Deline from "Morning Winds".  This included a few bottles of wine on the back deck.  Wonderful evening.  They are leaving early tomorrow morning to make the bridge and lock at the north end of the Dismal Swamp.  We can travel a little faster so we won't leave so early.

Ran the generator for the first time today to do the laundry and some cooking at the welcome center.  Ran good and had no problems.  Even kind of quiet.

Lots of logs floating submerged that were much harder to see than these

Trip 23.9 miles @ 7.4 avg mph, max 9.9 mph, 3:09.  Short day.


  1. Glad to finally see this up! How often do you think you guys will update?

    Also, hope the ride smooths out; poor cats! OH, and Joy, Charles says hello, and that he misses you. He wanted me to tell you :)

    1. We will attempt to update daily now that we have it figured out. I added a bunch of pictures today since it was raining. Tell Charles I said hi and I miss him too and I tell everyone I meet about Union Mission and my friend Charles.

  2. Pictures please. Worth a 1000 words. Thanks for the update

    1. Hey Dukie, we miss you guys and look forward to ya'll joining us (even if it is just to the Bahamas when we head that way next year. I have added some more pictures for you. Joy

    2. Looks like much fun. The weather should clear in another month or so. We would love to join you at some point. Just need to figure out a good time. Tell Jim to find a good sea faring bar and spend the day.

  3. I am so glad to be invited to the blog! I have enjoyed reading about your adventures and will keep reading!

  4. Glad to hear the trips going so well . Can't wait to get back on the beast and have some more cold ones with ya'll . Calm winds and following seas my friend .

  5. This is GREAT! So glad to hear from y'all although some of the girls have been keeping us up to date. Keep the posts and pics coming please!!! Miss you guys!! Madeleine

  6. Ahoy Mates!! Chow Down! Love reading about your trip.

  7. My friends, Your trip is so exciting! You will be my favorite reading over the next year. Be careful.

  8. Aunt Joy, How about a picture of the boat! We would love to see the accommodations.

    1. I leave him out sometimes too. I have added pictures of the outside of the boat. Will take some of the inside after we straighten it back up from all the rocking and rolling we did over the last 2 days. I ended up putting so much "stuff" on the floor to avoid any thing flying around. Feel free to give me advice on my picture taking since you are the expert.

  9. Great to hear from you guys. Sounds like a great adventure, one you both have talked about for some time. Glad the Loop has become reality. Have a great time and keep the beer cold and the wine breathing. Hope to stop in one day somewhere on the route.

  10. Eat some fresh seafood for me. (Oysters, crabs, flounder, etc) I am so envious. Watch out for those buoy's. I hit one while steering my friends sloop down in the panhandle years ago. Thought he was going to throw me overboard.

    Be well.

    George G.

  11. Enjoyed reading the update!! Must say after talking to you today and reading the blog--- don't wish I was there with sick cats!!! Check out facebook tomorrow on your phone-I think we can communicate even better and more often!! Love you both and MISS ya'll!!

  12. We are enjoying reading about your adventure. Mickey D. still is offering to come help with the cats.

    Carolyn and Don

    1. Thanks, you can come join us but Mickey D will have to visit Stacy, Wade and the kids. The cats don't need any other adjustments beyond the ups and downs that the boat gives them.

    2. That sounds pretty good! However, Don didn't do well with ups and downs on a troop ship going to Europe. He was pretty much like the cats. We'll have to see. Loved your pictures. I have spent a lot of time looking at each one. I have been following your trip on google maps and am looking at the east coast in a new way.
      Keep up the good work with the blog and the pictures.


    Pretty good blog website about the loop. You have probably already seen it but in case you haven't here it is. I enjoyed reading about the PANHANDLE section and seeing the pictures.

    Makes me want to go to the beach!

    Hope y'all are having fun with all the other cruisers.

    Looking forward to some more blog pix and stories.

    Be Safe,