Annapolis

We have been sucked into the vortex of boat projects, repairs and stuck in marinas. We are primarily in Annapolis because of the need to get our watermaker over hauled and refurbished in order to use it while we are in the Bahamas. We started out well enough with getting the Clark pump rebuild and replacing the membrane for the watermaker. However, when we tried a test run of the watermaker, there were several leaks, another pump causing a breaker to trip and diverter valves not functioning as they should. This required the marina here to order some parts to get us up and running and we have been sitting here for about a week waiting for parts. The saga of the watermaker continues….

In the meantime, Mark installed a new tank monitor for our holding tank.

We also decided to do a bit of shopping for some items that we couldn’t find at the normal grocery store and a few items we needed from Target. We found this great area called Town Center that has lots of shops, a Home Depot, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Whole Foods, Target, and lots of great restaurants. It was an awesome location to spend an afternoon. Yes, cruisers think stores are way cool! The interesting thing about the few items we still needed and were not able to find, one of those items was eggs! Yes, we have been to 3 stores here looking for eggs and there are none to be found! The shelves have been completely empty in the egg department. I don’t know what the deal is, one grocery store said it was taken off their order by mistake. I don’t know, chicken strike?, supply chain? Who doesn’t have eggs? We finally got some eggs at Whole Foods here.

While we are waiting for parts, we fill our time with cleaning, boat projects, washing, waxing, etc. The boat has never been so clean. And we are exploring Annapolis and finding all the great places to eat. One new favorite to add to the list, is the Federal House. It has been a tavern here in Annapolis since 1830.

To break up our routine of waiting and projects, our friends Ed and Evelyn have arrived in Annapolis on their boat from North Carolina! We plan to head down the coast with them in a week or so when we can get out of this marina and repairs. It is so awesome to see Ed and Evelyn again! We met Ed and Evelyn last summer while we were both on the Erie Canal. We traveled portions of the Erie Canal with them. Then when Mark had his health issues and we needed a place to keep the boat, Ed came to the rescue and stored our boat behind their house in New Bern, NC for 4 months for us. What great friends!

We met up for dinner and a walk around town. Lots of fun times ahead. Here are some cool photos of the great buildings around Annapolis.

And of course, a great sunset to top off the evening.

Since we are here in Back Creek in the Annapolis area waiting for parts for our watermaker, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle some projects that have been on our list that we haven’t gotten to.

First up was the job that you add to the list and then continually de-prioritize it because, let’s face it, no one wants to work on the head (that’s what ya call a marine toilet). Ours has had a slow fresh water leak that we think is coming from the base of the toilet. The base is a large plastic piece that the toilet and the pump mounts to. This plastic piece is likely about 20 years old and looks like it hasn’t been replaced in quite sometime, at least the 10 years that we have owned the boat. Over time plastic can crack or warp due to age and this is likely why it is now leaking. In order to replace this part, we have to basically dissemble the entire toilet. While we are at it, it’s a good time to also rebuild the head which involves replacing all the rubber parts and O rings and such that wear over time.

It took most of the day to dissemble and put back together again. Once we got it back together, we tried it out and no leaks!!! Of course, I had to clean and sanitize the entire bathroom after that job was done.

The next day we decided we would tackle installing our new head tank monitor. This is a monitor that goes onto the outside of our black water tank so we know when it is full and needs to be emptied. Today, it’s just guess work. As Mark was getting started on this project, he went to the hold in the floor of the galley where we store the paper towels to get some more. When he opening this hold, I could hear him say, “Why is there water in here?” That is never a good thing to hear on a boat. So we pull everything out of the hold area that is stored there, start to mop up the water and work to determine where the water is coming from. In this area, we have 3 thru hulls (thru hulls are basically holes in the boat that allow sea water to come in through a fitting and hoses that feeds sea water to various systems that requires sea water for cooling or running). One thru hull is the drain for the kitchen sink, another thru hull is the inlet for the air conditioning pump, and another thru hull is the inlet for the generator. We quickly determined that it appears the inlet for the generator seems to be leaking. It appears to be leaking where the hose connects to the sea strainer. A sea strainer is a device that is inline with the hose that strains the water coming in so that it captures things like seaweed, debris in the water, etc. so those things don’t end up in your generator. It appears that the fitting where the hose attaches to the sea strainer is plastic. Plastic fittings are never a great idea as they are more likely to crack and break than a bronze fitting. We also noticed that the sea strainer itself has duct tape on the bottom of the sea strainer. We haven’t used our generator that often so we haven’t really paid attention to this system very much. But as you can imagine it’s not really a good idea to have duct tape on something that lets in sea water into the boat. So, with the leak and finding duct tape here we have decided that we need to address this and forgo our project of installing the head tank monitor.

First we have to hunt through the spare parts we have aboard the boat to see if we have a spare sea strainer to replace the one that has duct tape on it and also need to locate a new hose fitting to see if we have a bronze one that is of the same size to replace the plastic fitting that is there now. After a bit of searching, Mark was able to find the parts we needed aboard the boat. We thank the previous owner of our boat everyday for all the spare parts that were left with the boat when we bought her. Then Mark proceeded to start taking things apart.

Here’s the sea strainer with duct tape on it!

Once we got everything taken apart, it was time to put it all back together with the new parts. In examining the hose that connects to the sea strainer it looks like the hose is cracked and stretched wide at the end of it, so Mark cuts off about an inch or so of the hose to have a fresh end of the hose to deal with.

Now comes the fun part! How long do you think it take to put a hose on a hose fitting? What’s your guess? An hour you say? Two hours tops? How about 3 hours to put that silly hose on the hose fitting. We tried heating the end of the hose in boiling water to soften it. We put dish soap on the hose fitting in the hope it would help it slide on. We also put dish soap on the inside part of the hose to help. Finally all these things, plus brute force with a crescent wrench to twist it on the hose finally gave us some results!! Whew…that was a lot of work! I think threatening to hire it out was what did it in the end. Then the sea strainer was put back together and we opened up the valve on the thru hull. No more leaks!!! This is awesome!!

This was a cause for celebration so we decided to head into downtown Annapolis for dinner and made our way to our favorite place – Pusser’s of course, home of the Painkiller! Annapolis is such a lovely town and I never tire of walking the main street of downtown.

Our walk back to the boat included some pretty houses and a great sunset!

We are on the move!

Even though the weather was still overcast and still not sunny and bright, the wind is down and it appears that it is not going to rain today so we are heading off the dock today! We are leaving Herrington Harbor North in Deale, MD where we have been for the last 2+ months and are heading to Annapolis. This is only about 20 miles or so today. It was still rather dreary as we left the dock and it was still rather wet on the boat, so I spent about 30 mins wiping down areas so we could be dry.

Once we got out a ways, we wanted to go through the steps to commission our new autopilot drive that needed to be done while on the water. This involves pushing a few buttons on the chart plotter and then turning the boat slowly in circles. We have to do this several times to calibrate everything. To others that might be observing us on the water, they are probably wondering, “Why is that boat going in circles?” It probably looks rather odd. But we were able to get it all calibrated and it seems to be working just fine and we are very happy.

We are testing out our newly rebuilt prop on this trip as well. When the prop guy removed our prop to have it shipped to Washington state to be rebuilt, he told us later that the prop was really bad and he didn’t think they were going to actually rebuild it. A new one would have doubled the cost, so we were happy they were able to rebuild the old one. Out on the water, the new prop seems to be performing quite well. There is no more vibration in the helm that there used to be and as we go into the bottom of a wave and the stern of the boat squats down, we used to hear a groaning sound and this is gone as well. We are extremely happy with the results of the newly re-built prop!

Mark and I enjoyed our morning coffee on the water and just took in the stillness and joy that we get from being on the water. We have missed being on the water the last couple of months.

We are also excited to be in Annapolis and among civilization rather than out in the country with nothing nearby. We will have access to grocery stores, ubers, restaurants, etc, all at our fingertips! We are heading to Annapolis to complete one more boat project. We need to have our watermaker rebuilt before we head to the Bahamas this winter. A watermaker is a device that we have aboard that takes salt water from the ocean and turns it into fresh drinking water through reverse osmosis. The watermaker has been aboard the boat since we bought the boat, however we haven’t used it at all in the fresh water of the midwest and the watermaker is about 20 years old, just like everything else on the boat. A watermaker is a popular piece of equipment to have for those who travel to the Bahamas. Fresh drinking water in the Bahamas to fill our 180 gallon tank is scarce and cruisers need to pay to fill tanks with drinking water. The going rate for drinking water in the Bahamas is $1.00 per gallon, so it’s not cheap. It’s much better to have our watermaker functioning so we don’t have to worry about water and can enjoy unlimited showers, dish washing, etc.

Once we arrived at J.Gordon in the back creek area of Annapolis. They guys got right to work the next morning on the watermaker. Once they finished up their work after several hours, they tried to run the watermaker and we soon discovered a few leaks and a non-functioning pump. We needed a new diverter vavle, this was the source of the leak and a new pump to replace the non-functioning one that was causing a fuse to blow every time it kicked in. So, they will need to order these parts and we will need to wait here for the parts to arrive before we can complete this project.

With that all sorted, we decided to head to the grocery store and do some stocking up of groceries and supplies that will hopefully last us for the next month or so. We do have a freezer aboard the boat and I am able to freeze lots of meats and other items which cuts down on the need to frequently go to a grocery store. We can sometimes go several weeks without a trip to the grocery store and then only need some fresh produce to replenish our supply.

Everything on a boat takes twice as long as doing the same job at home and grocery shopping is no exception. On a boat, it involves 1) inventorying what I have and compiling a list before I go. 2) Google to see where to nearest grocery store is to us. 3) Find an uber/lyft to take us to the store. 4) Shop 5) Unload all our groceries from the uber into a dock cart to wheel it down the dock to the boat. 6) Unload the dock cart into the cockpit of the boat 7) Move the groceries from the cockpit to down below in the boat 8) Sort the groceries based on where they go, fridge stuff, freezer stuff, pantry stuff 9) Get the fridge stuff in there before it gets too warm 10) Repackage all the freezer stuff and vacuum seal all the meat and freezer items so they stay fresh longer and don’t get freezer burn 11) Put away all the pantry items 12) Check freezer every couple hours and rotate items to ensure everything freezes. This process literally takes all day!

After all that we were too tired to cook so we headed to one of our favorite sailing pubs here in Annapolis. We headed over to Davis Pub in Eastport on Back Creek. This is a great little place that has it’s own dinghy dock nearby and when we have come here before, we came by dinghy. Today, however, the boat is docked within walking distance so we walked the 4 – 5 blocks to get here.

I was feeling a bit adventuresome from a food perspective, so I tried their hot dog covered with crab dip and cheese. It was pretty good!

Since we are here waiting for parts for the watermaker, I guess now is a good time to complete some projects on our list.

We are in the water!

So, since we were delayed a day getting the boat in the water, we slept on the boat in the boatyard last night. Since we are “on the hard” we did not have the benefit of air conditioning, however the weather has cooperated and last night it dropped down into the low 60’s so the weather was great for sleeping with the hatches open. We were up fairly early this morning since we knew they would be launching our boat today. I think we were up around 7 – 7:30 am. The guys started showing up and getting moving about 8 am. We had just made coffee when we heard the, “beep, beep, beep” of the travel lift coming over to our boat to pick us up to put us in the water. We quickly put some lines on both the bow and stern on both sides so that when the boat was put in the water they would have lines available to move and control the boat. Then we scampered down the ladder and out of the way for them to move the boat to the water.

I got one final pic of the boat in the yard with the bottom all painted and the boat looking all nice, washed and waxed.

Then it was show time! It was nice to stand by and watch them work while I enjoyed my coffee this morning.

And just like that, Painkiller was in the water! That feels much better!

Once we were in the water, the guys moved us forward on the dock a few boat lengths and tied us off on the dock. Every marina does things just a little differently and this marina brings you to and from your slip when you launch or come out of the water. They hip tie a smaller boat to our boat and motor us over to the slip. However, before they are ready to move us we have to wait for about an hour or so at this dock. There is another boat they are hauling out and it appears the guy has something wrong with his bow thruster. He works on that for a little bit and then they put the boat back in the water. While we waiting, we check over the boat and look for leaks since we are in the water, we started the engine and let it run a bit to ensure everything is working fine and just sat around and enjoyed our coffee and some morning tunes.

Finally the guys are ready to bring our boat over to the slip. We are back in slip D13 which is exactly where we were over 2 months ago before we took the boat out of the water.

Now the real work begins…the topsides of the boat are filthy dirty. This boat needs a bath. Because the bottom of the boat was soda blasted there is this grey film of fine dust all over the boat and for some reason is worse in the bow of the boat. It appears that it has been there so long that it doesn’t come off with just soap and water, it barely came off with rubbing compound, so I had to resort to using the On and Off cleaner which is a mild acid cleaner to get the grey film off. The only downside to On and Off is that it strips all the wax off so I will need to re-wax everything too.

We also put the sails back on the boat as well.

There are a ton of jellyfish in the water. Here they call them sea nettles. Here is a pic of one of them. I don’t think I want to go swimming.

We worked all day to clean and get the boat live able once again. The next day it rained literally all day, so we literally did nothing and rested. However, we did enjoy a great meal of Leone spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

The next day it rained a bit less, however it was still very cloudy, rain on and off for most of the day. So today was my day to inventory my food pantry. I needed to know what was in there and make sure everything still looked ok after 2 months and not had exploded or gone bad. I also had to compile our grocery list for a major grocery shop to get some food back on the boat. I still have lots of canned goods and non-perishable items but anything perishable was gotten rid of while we were gone for 2 months.

Later in the evening we walked to the other end of the marina and had dinner at the Dockside cafe. We were watching the radar trying to figure out if we would be able to make it back without getting wet. The answer was no. Looking at the forecast, it is looking like the weather tomorrow is going to clear enough for us to leave Herrington Harbor and make our way to Annapolis!

Life in the Boatyard

We arrived back to the Chesapeake area on Sunday September 3rd. We flew into Baltimore and arrived around 1:30 pm. From Baltimore we have to take an Lyft to get to the boat in Deale, MD which is about 20 – 30 miles from Baltimore. Deale, MD is fairly remote and there really aren’t Ubers or Lyfts to get around the town once we are there and there is not a grocery store within walking distance, so we had the Lyft driver take us to a grocery store so I could grab a few things to tide us over until we could do a more major grocery shop and restock our supplies.

We arrived to the boat around 3 pm after our stops. The Lyft driver dropped us right at the boat so we could unload all our bags.

Our first look at Painkiller after 2 months of being away. We were quite disappointed to see that the boat had no bottom paint, no prop and still some work to be done to finalize the autopilot. The boat is scheduled to go in the water on Thursday morning. That’s 4 days from now, but with the labor day weekend, that only allows the workmen 2 working days to get all this done. Paint needs time to dry. By our calculations this is not looking good to stay on our timeline. First order of business, hunt around the yard for a ladder or some stairs to get aboard the boat. Mark found the stairs to wheel over so we could get aboard. Then we hauled our bags aboard and repacked the minimal amount of things we would need at the hotel into a smaller bag. Checked things out on the boat, batteries ok, etc.

Then we decided since we would be staying in the hotel for the next 4 nights it might be easier to get there by dinghy rather than walking everyday. It’s a 1.5 mile walk one way. So, we took the dinghy off the deck of the boat and lowered it down with our spare halyard. We positioned a dock cart on the front of the dinghy so that we could wheel it to the water. We realized that we were at low tide and the distance from the fixed docks to the water was at least 3 – 4 feet. We weren’t sure how we were going to get the dinghy down to the water. It weighs about 100 lbs. So, we looked at the marina map and noticed that there is a dinghy launch area…at the other end of the marina. Now this marina is HUGE! It’s at least a 1/2 mile to get to the dinghy launch area. So, we put our dinghy wheels on the back of the dinghy with the cart on the front and now we have a makeshift 3 wheeled vehicle of sorts to wheel the dinghy over to the launch area. We finally get the dinghy in the water. But we have to go back to the boat and get the outboard and the gas. We lower the outboard into a dock cart using our dinghy hoist and lower the gas tank from the deck. We brought this all over to the dinghy launch area and connected everything and tried to get the dinghy motor started. It would start but it was leaking gas at the connection and would not stay running. Tired and frustrated after 3 hours of work to get to this point, we decided to leave the dinghy and walk to the hotel as the sun was starting to set. We get to the hotel and thought we would brag a bite to eat at the boathouse next to the hotel but it was closed. The Boat House is pretty cool. It’s a bar/restaurant that is built around an old boat with all kinds of boat related items that are repurposed in the bar/restaurant.

At this point we are tired and hungry, so our only option was to have pizza delivered to the hotel room. We ate the whole thing and fell asleep.

The next day, we got up and walked to the great little breakfast place that is near the hotel called the South Country Cafe. They have great breakfast and coffee. Yes, we need coffee.

Our mission today is waxing the hull of the boat. We called the local hardware/rental center store in town before we left Minneapolis. The hardware store rents scaffolding so we can easily get up where we need to be to wax the boat. The best part is they also deliver! Since we have no car here, this is a bonus. The scaffolding was dropped off on Saturday and was waiting for us by the boat for our use today. So, first order of business, put together the scaffolding. Then we had to locate all the supplies that we needed to wax. Where is the wax? Where is the buffer? Everything on the boat takes twice as long. Once we got going, we were able to finish one side in a couple of hours. The boat was very dirty in the boat yard, so I had to wash the hull ahead of Mark coming along with the wax.

We took a break from the heat in the air conditioned boater’s lounge and had some lunch before we tackled the other side of the boat. That was about all we got done today and then we walked to the Happy Harbor Restaurant which is about halfway to the hotel. I, of course, got a crab cake. I know some of you heard me say that I was actually a bit tired of seafood at the end of our time in the Chesapeake before we headed ome. Well, after 2 months at home, I missed the seafood. That crab cake tasted delicious!

Tuesday morning was the day all the workers would be back at work. We made several phone calls and checked in with the vendors that we hired to do the work. They seemed to need a reminder that we planned to have the boat in the water on Thursday morning!! They still have a lot of work to be done. Now keep in mind that we are sort of acting as the general contractor in this scenario. All the vendors here are independent contractors from the marina and not controlled through the marina. So, we need to contact each person we want to hire for work to be done and work with each vendor directly, so we are doing a lot of coordination to juggle the 4 – 5 vendors we have hired to do work.

Tuesday was bag emptying day. We had 4 duffle bags full of clothes and stuff to empty and put away somewhere on the boat. As I said, everything takes twice as long on a boat. This is what we had to start with.

This is the mess that was our master cabin. In order to have people doing work on the boat, we needed to empty the 2 large lockers that we have in the cockpit of the boat so that they had access to install the new autopilot. So, imagine that we take the contents of your garage and put it in your bedroom. Yes, that what we have here. There is simply no other space to put anything so it has to go there. So in order to unpack and put clothes away, we first had to re-home all this stuff. So, yes unpacking 4 duffle bags took all day.

Wednesday September 7th – This was my view for most of the day today.

I did 3 loads of laundry. All the sheets, towels, etc on the boat. While I did all the laundry, Mark was busy putting all the mess of stuff that was in our master cabin back where it all belongs in the 2 lockers in our cockpit area. We also had a lot of workers on the boat today. They finished installing the autopilot. We have the 3 coats of barrier paint (grey) on the boat. The first coat of paint (red) and hopefully by the end of the day, we will have 1 of 2 coats of final paint (black). We also had the prop guy here today, reinstalling the prop. Busy day! At the end of the day we were exhausted!

Thursday September 8th – We were supposed to be in the water this morning, however that is not happening. We still have 2 more coats of paint to go before we can be in the water. We slept in a bit this morning since we have been working so hard. So, we didn’t get to the boat until almost 11 o’clock after stopping for breakfast. My job today – Putting white duct tape on the foam insulating boards we have in our fridge. We made some custom sized and cut foam boards to fit in the fridge and freezer to help provide more insulation and help reduce the amount of run time that the fridge and freezer needs to work. Originally, I painted the foam boards with a special primer that would not eat away the foam and then coated them with an appliance epoxy paint. This kinda worked, however I still had bits of foam crumbling off in the fridge and they were not wipeable or as durable as I hoped they would be. So, my solution now is to cover them in white duct tape to make them more durable and wipeable and cleaner. Meanwhile, Mark was down at the dinghy landing working on cleaning the carburetor of the outboard motor to try to get the dinghy up and running. And we also made the beds. We moved out of the hotel today and our plan is to sleep on the boat in the boat yard tonight and we will be put in the water tomorrow morning!!

Elizabeth City

We left Albemarle Plantation early this morning after we topped off with diesel and pumped out at the fuel dock on our way out. The winds this morning are predicted to be 9 – 11 knots from the north, however after we got out of the protection of the harbor area and out into the Albemarle Sound the winds were 17 20 knots from the north east. Right on our nose, so no sailing and much stronger than anticipated so once again we shoulder into the wind and waves of the Albemarle Sound. Otherwise it was a fairly uneventful passage and we were much more protected once we turned north up the Elizabeth River toward Elizabeth City

Elizabeth City has free docks in town which make this a great stop. However, sometimes you get what you pay for and the dock are really just a extremely short section of dock about 3 feet long and piling that you have to tie your boat to. We are not a fan of these extremely short finger piers which makes it hard to get on and off the boat. Instead, we were told of another free dock in town at the Christian University, so we opted to head there. This is just on the other side/north side of the draw bridge, so the added bonus is we won’t have to wait for a bridge opening in the morning when we want to leave. Here we are on the nicer free dock.

It’s just a little bit longer walk to town from here but really only about 2 – 3 additional blocks. Once we got docked and all settled we headed over to the city docks where our friends Dee Dee and Jon on War Eagle pulled up. Once we got over there, we realized we had several friends there. We found Ron and Sandy on Rockin’ Chair who we last saw in Carolina Beach. We also found the boat Alvin James. We remembered this boat from our time in Manitowoc, WI. Could this be the same Alvin James from Manitowoc? We knocked and ask the owners where they were from and sure enough, they are from Manitowoc, James and Jill. We also unexpected ran into 2 additional boat here Gin Bo and Alexos. Now this is really funny because we haven’t seen these 2 boats since last September on the Hudson River! After they spent the winter down in the Caribbean, they are headed back north. What are the chances of running into them again! After greetings and reunions, we gathered a few of us to head over to the local brewery.

After a beer or two and chatting with a large group of coast guard recruits sitting next to us, we headed to the local burrito place – Big Boss Burrito. Today is Cinco de Mayo so we must celebrate in the Mexican tradition.

This place was hopping for Cinco de Mayo and they had the street blocked off with a live band playing, so it was pretty awesome. Best steak quesadilla I have every had!

We had a blast in Elizabeth City with some amazing friends, but tomorrow it’s time to move on!

After surviving our crossing of the Albemarle Sound, we finally made our way into the Albemarle Plantation Marina. We had been concerned about the depth of the approach into the marina so we had called ahead to ask about the depths, approach and our slip assignment. They assured us that we would have plenty of depth and to keep the red bouy on our right as we come into the marina. No problem, we can do that.

As we came into the marina area, Mark was watching our depth gauge and saw 2 – 3 feet under our keel, it’s all good. We have the red bouy far off to our right. All of a sudden the boat stopped hard and quickly. So quickly that I was thrown forward and had the companionway been open, I might have fallen down the companionway. We are aground within about 20 feet from the marina and the slip we had to get to. I called the marina staff on the VHF and they offer some advice for trying to get free of our situation as they prepare to get into a boat to come out and tow us off. We tried several times to back up to get off, go forward with the wheel hard to one side and then the other. We were not moving. Finally we tried to hoist the jib, our forward sail. Having the boat lean over, even if just a bit, was the trick to get us free of our predicament. Once we finally landed at the end of B dock and tied up we were chatting with the marina staff. They commented, “What were you doing way over there?” We don’t know why we were “way over there”. We were keeping the red bouy on our right. Then they commented, “Why is the red bouy way over there?” Again, not sure we know the answer to the question. The marina staff went out in a small boat to inspect the red bouy. It appears that the chain broke on the red bouy that anchors it to the bottom of the sea floor. The red bouy was not in the place that it should have been, completely unknown to us. Well, we survived our first grounding and lived to tell the tale.

After our tiresome and eventful day of getting to Albemarle Plantation, we think that a happy hour is in order and all the sailing friends old and new agreed to join us. I don’t think we could fit any more friends aboard Painkiller. From left to right, we have Ellen, June, Pat, Mark, Steve, Steve, Joe, Vicki and Jack. I am taking the picture. Of course the couples did not sit next to one another, so it’s Joe and Ellen from La Vida, Steve and June from Sabbatical, Steve and Pat from Calypso and Jack and Vicki from Sojourn. After happy hour we all headed to the clubhouse for dinner together.

The next morning we got a golf cart and toured around the property that is the Albemarle Plantation. It’s really a gated community with golf course, pool, club house, restaurants, etc and the marina. The property is quite large so it’s great to have a golf cart to get around. Best of all you can park your golf cart right next to your boat on the dock.

Here are some more pics of the grounds along our little tour.

They even have fresh herbs for all the boaters to take.

The tent is all set up for the pig roast for tonight.

We all had a blast at the pig roast! I thought I took more photos of the pig roast but I guess I was too busy having fun.

After the pig roast we all ended up back aboard Painkiller, but this time everyone brought their instruments. We had 3 ukulele’s, 2 guitars and a trumpet. We had a great jam session butchering a few songs as we all sang along. So much fun!

The next day was a day of cleaning the boat both inside and out. While I was vacuuming the stairs, Mark came inside and I stopped what I was doing for a minute when we both noticed that the cabin was filled with a considerable amount of smoke!! Where did all this smoke come from? We quickly determined that it also smelled like a burnt electrical smell and it was coming from the area of the electrical panel of the boat. We immediately turned everything off and disconnected the shore power and Mark opened up the electrical panel to find this burned up wire behind our panel. That’s not good!

I walked to the marina office to see if they had some information about boat electricians in the area that we can call to come take a look at this and fix this. After a bit of calling, discussion and changing plans to accommodate getting this fixed, we have determined that the electrician can’t come until Tuesday to fix this and today is Saturday. So, I guess we are hanging out here until Tuesday.

We filled our time here with boat chores, laundry, cleaning, blog posts, walking, exploring, dinner and some small sewing projects. All our friends left on Monday morning to head to Norfolk to get there for the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association Rendezvous. It was really quiet around here after all the boaters left after the pig roast. However, we were eating dinner one night at the club house/restaurant and we met Jon and Dee Dee aboard War Eagle. They, of course, are headed the same direction as we are. They are gold loopers meaning that they have already completed all 5,250 miles of the great loop in the last year and they loved it so much they are going around a second time. After dinner we invited them aboard Painkiller, however a sudden downpouring of rain interrupted our plans as they didn’t want to walk from their boat to ours in the down pour.

The marine electrician came on Tuesday as planned and was able to determine that everything seemed to be ok, just a burned up wire, likely due to the wire being loose and then the current being overloaded. Note to self, don’t turn on the water heater, and the battery charger and then vacuum at the same time. Too much for the 30 amp breaker. We are glad he was able to replace the wire and determine that we shouldn’t have any more issues. We are all set to leave Albemarle Plantation on Thursday morning.

We left Belhaven to head out to the Alligator River. This is a completely new section of the Intercoastal Waterway that we have never travelled before since last fall Painkiller travelled these waters without us aboard. That is when we had a captain take her from Norfolk down to New Bern, NC while we were dealing with medical issues.

There is a really skinny canal portion on our travels today, it’s called the Pungo River/Alligator River Canal. It’s only about a boat length or so wide so it reminds us of the Erie Canal. However this is really rural with no real towns along the way. So tonight we will anchor in a wider spot just after we exit the canal and before we get in the Alligator River proper.

The red line starting at the bottom of the map below is where we anchored for the night at the base of the alligator river. It was a bit windy overnight, but the winds were out of the north and we were a bit protected just to the west of the base of the river.

The sunset was gorgeous however as we snuggled in for the night!

The next morning we left our anchorage to make our way to the Albemarle Plantation Marina. The red line on the map above marks our path that we will travel today.

The Alligator River and the Albemarle Sound are both rather notorious bodies of water that can be quite uncomfortable in windy conditions due to the relatively shallow water. This area behind the outer banks of North Carolina is also affected by land heating and sea breezes that tend to generate instant thunderstorms.

As you can see from the map above, the Alligator River is positioned north/south and today we had the wind out of the north. As we pulled up anchor and came around the relatively protected area at the base of the river, we felt the full force of the north wind at 15 – 22 knots at the bow of the boat as we tried to make our way north. Because the wind was so strong and the water relatively shallow in this area this was generating waves that were 6 to 7 feet in height with about a 1 second wave period.

So let me tell you a few things about waves to put this into perspective. The wave period is the time it takes for 2 successive wave crests (that’s the top of the wave) to past a specific point. The wave period is often referred to in seconds e.g. one wave every 6 seconds. As I mentioned, the wave period with these waves was about 1 second. Waves very close together makes for very chopped and uncomfortable conditions. Now the other concept at play here is fetch. Fetch is the uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows. The greater the fetch the greater the wave heights. Because the wind was out of the north, there was wide open unobstructed water for miles across the Albemarle Sound and the entire length of the Alligator River for the waves to build. This resulted in wave heights of 6 to 7 feet at the base of the river.

As we tried to make our way motoring north, we would be hit by a wave that felt like the boat just hit a concrete wall and our boat speed would go from 5 knots down to about 1.5 knots. Because the waves were so close together we barely felt like we could get any speed up before we were hit with the next wave. We were not make way to the north very quickly at all. The boat was slamming into the waves and water was washing over the dodger and the bimini.

We had 3 or 4 boats, including us that we know are in the area. Most were anchored near us last night and we all left the anchorage this morning to head up the river. We have no cell service in the area at all so we can’t even check weather apps on our phones to get wind or waves updates. A boat named Silly Goose is ahead of us on the river. We hailed them on the VHF to see if we could get an update from them on the conditions ahead. We are hoping the waves will decrease the further north we head as the fetch will lessen the further north we go. There is a swing bridge that crosses the Alligator River on the northern end that we need to have open and pass through. The bridge will not open in adverse conditions such as sustained winds over 25 knots. When we talk to Silly Goose, he is concerned that we might get north only to find that the bridge may not open. We are all too far from the bridge to communicate with them via VHF and there is no cell coverage to call the bridge. After some discussion about the conditions, Silly Goose has decided to turn around and head back to the anchorage. Mark and I discussed, “Should we turn back?” There is another boat named 3rd Dimension that is behind us.

Ultimately Mark and I decided to keep going, it seems like the further north we head that the wave action is settling down bit by bit. However, it also seems like the further north we head that the winds are getting stronger. We still don’t know if the bridge will open. We keep plodding along wiping down the dodger glass with a cloth so we can see where we are going ahead of us through the window. 3rd Dimension has decided to hang in with us and keep heading north. We got to within sight of the bridge and now the winds were as high as 24 to 25 knots. We were finally able to call the bridge on the VHF to see if he would open. YES! He will open. Thank you! Given the waves conditions and the narrow area have to get through to pass through the bridge, I gave the helm to Mark as I was too nervous to take us through. Mark did fabulous! Once we were able to clear the bridge and make our way out into the Albemarle Sound and turn the boat a bit to the west, we were able to hoist our stay sail. With the wind no longer right on the nose of the boat and having the stay sail up, it helped to calm the motion of the boat a bit and helped to make the boat cut through the waves more than slamming into them. Still not a comfortable ride but certainly better than what we have had.

Today was exhausting and as you can image I didn’t take really any photos as we were just busy worrying about us and the boat. We were grateful to be on the final approach to the Albemarle Plantation Marina and put this day behind us.

Belhaven – Storms

We were up early the next morning in Oriental and left the dock around 7 am. We have about 45 miles to go today to arrive in Belhaven. Coming out of Oriental there is big water in the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound along our route today, so that means SAILING!!! We haven’t had our sails up in quite sometime as we travelled the skinny parts of the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). So, we are excited to be able to hoist the sails and let Painkiller stretch her sailing legs.

Mark’s pretty happy about sailing!

We arrived in Belhaven in the mid-afternoon and I made an immediate beeline for the laundry facilities. We needed to get some laundry done for several days now and did not have access to laundry facilities at our last few stops. Best of all Belhaven Marina has FREE laundry! That is music to these sailing ears!

There are several boats here that we have met and travelled in a pack with over the last several days. There are also people such as Bruce and Maggie aboard their Ranger Tug that we haven’t seen since we met them in Charleston and finally have crossed paths again here in Belhaven. There are several boats in the area that we know are headed to Albemarle Sound like us for the pig roast. There are also several boats that are in a pack headed north to Norfolk for the American’s Great Loop Cruisers Association Rendezvous that is occurring the first week in May.

Because there are several boats here in Belhaven, we had a cruiser’s happy hour on the deck of the marina and chatted with everyone and got to meet some new people as well. We all exchanged boat cards and we added all the ones we gathered to our growing library of boat cards.

After happy hour, we walked into town with Bruce and Maggie and found a restaurant called Fish Hooks. Belhaven is a pretty small town with a small town feel, so just a local place to grab a bite. As we were sitting in the restaurant we could see the storm clouds were building outside the window and it was getting darker by the minute. We have about a 1/2 mile to walk to get back to the boat, so we quickly paid our bills and got out of there and walked swiftly back to the boats to see if we could get there before the storm. I did take a moment to snap a few photos however.

We made it back to the boat just as the wind was picking up and a few raindrops had started…PHEW! The marina staff at Belhaven Marina are top notch, they came out to all the boats to ensure everyone was tied up well and had enough fenders, etc to ride out the storm. They helped several boats put on an additional line or two and were busy putting away the lawn chairs and anything else that could get launched in a wind storm. Based on the sky, this looked like it was going to be a doozy!

We did get quite a bit of wind and rain from the storm but it actually moved through rather quickly and most of us were either in the cockpits of our boats watching the storm under the bimini or came out as the storm was ending.

We were so glad we made it back from the restaurant timely! The rest of the evening was a peaceful one and the excitement of the evening was over. Tomorrow we head further north.

We left Swansboro after an evening of strong winds. We were happy that the winds had calmed down by morning as we made our departure from Swansboro to head to Oriental today. The Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) is still narrow as we make our way from Swansboro towards Beaufort. This time through this area we decided not to stop in Beaufort and keep on going right to Oriental. In total the trip today is about 50 miles, so about 10 hours today, if we maintain about 5 knots. However, there are some strong currents through the Moorehead/Beaufort area and the tide is in our favor today and pushing along at a much faster rate than 5 knots so we were able to get into Oriental at about 2:30 pm.

As we approached the Beaufort area, there was another Island Packet that passed us going in the opposite direction, of course we waved hello! Just as we passed each other we heard someone hailing us on the VHF. It was the owner of the Island Packet 40 calling us on the radio. We chatted with him for about 15 – 20 minutes and exchanged contact information and stories about where we were headed, where he was headed, etc. He is headed to Florida to have some work completed on his boat down there. Nice chatting and “meeting” people along our journey.

As we came through the Beaufort area, I took this photo. I thought it was a great photo showing the contrast of a small fishing boat against the large tanker. We see boats of all shapes and sizes.

As we pulled into Oriental, our friend Ed met us on his dinghy and guided us into the harbor. He followed us to our slip at the Oriental Marina and Inn and helped us tie up. It is so good to see Ed. You might recall we met Ed and Evelyn last summer on the Erie Canal and then they stored our boat for us for 4 months behind their house in New Bern, NC when we had to fly home unexpectedly. Ed brought his boat up from New Bern to spend sometime with us in Oriental. Once we got settled, Ed went a retrieved his boat that he left in the outer anchorage and moved to the free dock closer to us. We called Evelyn who drove the car up and joined us.

The Oriental Marina and Inn is a great property that has an awesome grassy area just in front of the slips that overlooks the water with the town near by. It’s a great place to sit in the lounge chairs on the grass and have a beer and chat with our friends and other sailors.

Here’s the view from our boat.

Enjoying a cocktail on the grass.

The 4 of us had dinner at the restaurant right at the marina and inn and had a great evening catching up and creating new memories.

Sadly, we are only in Oriental for one night and we have to move on tomorrow. We are trying to get to Albemarle Sound Plantation for the pig roast.