Saturday, October 31, 2020

Georgetown, marina

This one is somewhat dull, since nothing really happened. It was easy getting out of the marina in the morning, it was a nice enough day on the water (well, a little chilly), and an uneventful docking in Georgetown. The only things of note were 1) a bridge we had to wait for but only a minute or two and 2) being passed in the last 2 miles by a boat heading to the same marina we were, so we had to wait while they got docked first. I so hate it when that happens.

While not an awful day tomorrow for traveling we'll stay 2 nights here. The will allow us to provision a bit (we're low on some groceries) and get laundry done. It will also time our arrival into Charleston because that bay can be a thing. 

Note to self: Next time we're on the Waccamaw River we really need to plan to anchor there. Lots of great spots, and it just looks lovely.

Some spooky pics for Halloween:

Happy Halloween.
This gutted fish drifting in the harbor was the 
best decoration I've seen thus far!

No shortage of distressed boats but these are really trashed.

Us at night from the back. I love my tiki torches!


Friday, October 30, 2020

Myrtle Beach, marina

While we technically stayed at a marina the last 2 nights, they were full and didn't have a slip for us with power. So, it's was kinda like being on anchor with easy dog walking. But cold is coming, being sucked down by Hurricane Zeta that just passed over us, so having heat would be nice. It was supposed to be crazy windy today (and we wouldn't have traveled if that was the case) but the winds got below 15 mph and our next stop wasn't far away, so at noon we decided to go.

We traveled westward. Our track (dotted line) is
the higher route; Bob's is the lower one.
Where it's orange is now very red.
There was a bit of excitement on the route itself, where substantial shoaling occurred even since the last time we were there (in June). Lockwood Folly is known for this. In fact, due to the numerous hurricanes these year, a noted snowbirder named Bob Sherer (but we boaters know him as Bob423) recorded his track down the ICW this year, which we have been following. His boat drafts over 5 feet, so if he can take a path, we can follow. However, he took the marked route through Lockwood Folly noted some crazy shallow. Since then, he proposed an alternate route. Not only were we one of the first to do the alternate, we recorded our path and sent it to Bob423 so other boats may get through there without issue. Boating! It's a community!

Lots of nifty homes en route, but check out
the stairs to that widow's walk!
Well, kinda. Fellow boaters (Bella Gatto) posted on FB that they anchored in Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, which would have been wonderful except for all the waking from other boaters. Russ posted that we have noticed that NC boaters are incredibly rude: never slow down, never call for a slow pass, and just blaze by. Of course some North Carolinian got upset and wrote his thoughts which included "we are locals and you are a guest" followed by (and I am NOT making this up) "your comfort is not our priority." Odd way to treat a guest but I'm thinking that's the state slogan -- North Carolina: Your comfort is not our priority!

Perfect boating day, albeit breezy
Arrived without issue, got fuel (which is the 3rd time at this marina, so I know the way!), then pulled into a slip for a chilly night. Once docked the harbor master told me I did a great job handling the boat, and that he wished all transients were so easy to dock. Love that!


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

St. James, marina

Tomorrow bad winds start so we wanted to get as south as possible. Originally it looked like the winds wouldn't be as bad in Southport, but alas, the weather changed -- gonna be bad here too.

My biggest frustration with Nebo is that if the GPS no longer shows movement it assumes you've completed your voyage. It completely ignores the existence of bridges that only open on the hour or so. The map here shows our progress after such a bridge, but we were up and on the water by 7:20 am. We got to the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge about 15 minutes before it's next opening at 10 am. Standing stations is one of my favorite things to do... NOT!

Possible "swan" of Swansboro?
There were a number of these walking around.
Very long day today. Not too many problems. The same bozo that waked us yesterday did so again today, in exactly the same way -- came up from behind, never hailed us, and never slowed down. We hailed the boat ahead of us and warned him. Once the bozo passed him too he hailed us and thanked us for the heads up. The boat didn't have AIS, nor had any name on the boat, nor answered our hails, making it difficult to rat them out to the Coast Guard.

Lots of boats on the water today, which was weird for a Wednesday. While the boat I mention above was the worst offender, we have a theory that all boaters in North Carolina are rude. No one slows down, no one hails you for a pass. Kinda shocking. 

Waiting for the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge.
After Onslow, there were 2 other lower bridges, both of which we could go under with small adjustments to our antennae and radar mount. As a result we passed a number of boats that were shorter than us, but unable (or unwilling) to lower their antennae. One boat could have made it without trying -- they just really didn't know how tall they were.

Our last adventure happened as we joined the Cape Fear River on our way to Southport, which has a shipping channel. As we entered we could see a freighter coming our way. Russ checked the AIS which gave us its speed, about 12 knots. That was not something we wanted to get close to. We slowed to a crawl to let him pass us, then followed him down the river. As he headed out another vessel, without containers, was heading in. High traffic on the water today!

One coming in, one going out.
We arrived just after 5 pm. This marina, while lacking in amenities, is wonderfully protected. Watching the ETA we knew we'd be within minutes of them closing, so Russ called about an hour out to get a slip assignment. This time we sterned in without issue. So. HA!


This wreck has been here so long it's on our maps.
I can understand personal vessels remaining wrecked,
but this is a commercial shrimp boat.

The sign reads "Live fire in progress when flashing."
Not flashing today.



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Swansboro, town dock

We thought Beaufort would make a good first day out being about a 5 hour trip. But after doing hard, physical labor for the last 12 days, sitting on a boat for 8 hours doesn't seem so tough anymore. Besides, a decent storm is heading this way bringing with it winds of 15 - 18 mph winds for a couple of days, so we thought we'd get as far south as we could.

Which, if you look at the map, really was only about a 25 mile trip as the crow flies. If more people boated there would have been a handy canal that connected New Bern to Swansboro. More reason to root for global warming, I guess.

Driving on instruments.
And a look out, just in case
Trip started out a bit sketchy as we left in a decent fog. We have radar, so we can see without using our eye, and we have a handy feature on our radio that, over our loudspeaker outside, produces a 5 second beep every 2 minutes. Handy. We kept our speeds low, though, just in case. The fog lasted for a couple of hours, building, then receding, until around 11 am.

No real incident along the way. We got waked a couple of times by "the migration", which is a bunch of fast moving boats heading south for the winter. We almost had a run in (literally) with some guy who insisted on being within feet of us passing, and once by us he had the nerve to raise his arms in a "What are you doing?" manner. I almost turned my boat around so I could tell him:

  1. We're already on the far side of the channel, and you were in the middle. Where did you want us to go?
  2. We are a 40 foot lumbering vessel, and you're a zippy 20 fishing boat, making you much more maneuverable, so maneuver!
  3. There was more depth on that side of the channel if you had yielded
  4. And you must draft about a foot anyway, so you don't need to be in the f-ing channel, anyway! 
"The fish finder says right here!"
But I didn't. I'm chalking it up to very rude North Carolinian boaters.

After all the time up north this was also our first "ah, yes, current!" experience. We're docked at the town dock and wanted to stern in, which made getting on and off the boat much easier. But the currents twisted in various directions, making it a tricky thing to do. After 6 tries, I finally got her in. I wanted to give up and bow in. My husband urged us to do it right. 

And we did!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Now the fates are mocking us

We were all ready to go...
Up early this morning we packed up our hotel room and checked out, ready to splash the boat and take her to a marina to start cleaning her. Between the rain and mud and sand in the boat yard, inQuest was filthy both inside and out. So... one more day of work left.

We arrived at the yard at 7:50 am, 10 minutes before the yard officially opened, ready to do just a few preliminary things before getting splashed.

Until...

...but he ruined the morning.
Someone over the weekend needed to be hauled out, and parked their boat in the very channel we would be put into. And, no, they weren't here first thing in the morning. So, change of plans. The yard master decided to haul them out first, then put us in. We were re-blocked and the sling machine was taken away.

Hanging out inside, watching THAT GUY
get hauled out, too,
To add to my frustration, due to the weather (which remains overcast) our power ran pretty low over the night. Under normal circumstances we'd just run a generator to recharge the batteries, but they generator is cooled by the water around us, of which there is none because we're on land. The yard was reluctant to run a power cable to us, but we got them to do so. It took our new and old power cables to reach their line.

Then another boat showed up. So they hauled that, too.

We did get splashed, thankfully.
Then another boat showed up. And they hauled that one as well. That one was particularly frustrating because they sling machine was already back over us and they started putting the belts back on. The even unplugged us and took the power away.

So our day of cleaning the boat dwindled as, hour after hour, we waited on the hard for our turn. Finally, well after lunch, it happened.

We had a reservation at the marina across the river that many folks loved. It is, however, behind a bridge. Once we neared it, it was just closing and we were told to wait. After 15 minutes I got suspicious -- we thought this was an open-on-request bridge. Russ hailed them to confirm and, nope, they open on the half hour only. Russ called the other marina, the one on the river (not as protected, but the night looks dandy), and they had room. We were docked and engines off before I heard the bridge open over the radio.

Bears! Bears! Everywheres!
Yep, we cleaned the boat, inside and out. Exhausted we went to dinner at one of the cute tavern in town with and expansive outdoor seating area.

Now. I'm going to drop. Been a heck of a two weeks. I'm so looking forward to just boating again. 

Flag bear, also bearing the New Bern flag bear.


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Of course, Mother Nature got the last laugh

We've been watching the weather for days so we knew that, suddenly, this was coming. We at least had the foresight to get some plastic painting drop cloths to cover the outside of the boat where we thought it might interfere with our last day of work. We also thought we were lucky, since the underside of the boat would stay dry.

We just did not plan on the flooding.

Tarps are taped over each section needing paint.

Note the water under the boat.

Taping the plastic to extra boat jacks was the
idea of a neighbor, Ed of Sea Castle.
They worked really well.
 
All we needed was 1 more day!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2020

A day off. But we're not done.

Friday we got a break. We finished the painting Thursday. The hull good and dry the yard is going to hang the boat today so we can finish it over the weekend. Even if we wanted to work today we couldn't. Hanging the boat means it's occupying one of the 2 haul-out machines. So it won't get raised until the end of day. Good thing too. Both of us are achy and exhausted.

From gray...

...to blue...

...to black. 7 frickin' coats of paint!

The Pepsi Store, honoring the New Bern
invention.
Meanwhile we got to explore New Bern a bit. Settled in 1710, the Swiss and German folks who came here were from Bern, Switzerland. "Bern" also means "bear", and city delights in them with bears strewn about the town in all sorts of patterns and colors.

But New Bern's biggest claim to fame is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola! Originally called "Brad's Drink" is was a concocted in a drugstore in town. So, there's that.

This bear is in front of a Walmart.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Thank goodness we're painting!

Finally, doing the thing we wanted to do many days ago. And it's SO much prettier now!

Before!

After!

Still a number of coats to go. We've decided the timing will be better with 4 barrier coats. We'll do a 2nd and 3rd tomorrow, then the last barrier coat and the first top coast on Wednesday (recall they have to be done with the barrier is still tacky).

She lays this way to convince me she needs a bigger bed.

But that does delay the schedule a bit, which now looks like this: 
  • Tuesday, barrier coats #2 and #3
  • Wednesday, barrier coat #4, top coat #1
  • Thursday, top coats #2 and #3
  • Friday, hang the boat.
See all those blocks the boat is sitting on? We can't paint those. They weren't even blasted. So once they hang the boat Friday they'll leave it like that over the weekend. And we'll have to do ALL THESE STEPS all over on those patches, starting with sanding off all the old paint. Should only take a couple of days, since they are small. I'm hoping, anyway.

Thus (as I suspected) we'll splash on Monday.




Sunday, October 18, 2020

4 Days of patching

All patched. All sanded. Now it
needs to be cleaned for the first coat.
We have completed the patching part of our bottom job (well, we still have a little sanding to do yet). Tomorrow we will start the painting part. I'm hoping it will be more fun, or at least less work. 

The epoxy we put on comes in 2 compounds that have to be mixed in equal parts to be used. (I have no photos of this because the stuff is crazy goopy and I didn't want to get it on my phone!) As a result you work in batches, and you work quickly since the goop dries out and becomes really hard to put on. Once dried the stuff needs to be sanded, then the area cleaned with denatured alcohol (a fuel, donchano!), then reapply for any bad holes (of which we had many). 

It took us 4 days to do. Yes. Bring one the paint -- I'm ready for a change.

Fun in the hotel room.
The paint plan is as follows: First, we need to apply a "barrier coat" which seals the gelcoat and grips the bottom paint. We will apply 3 (yes, 3) coats of that. The first 2 will be easy -- apply and dry. The third will be a little tricky since we need to apply the first coat of bottom paint while the 3rd coat fo the barrier paint is still tacky (tacky, not wet, apparently key to the process).

We will apply 3 bottom coats as well, the first in a bright color, like red, and the next 2 in black. The theory is that, as the paint wears, we'll know when it's time to repaint once we see the red stuff. 

The weather for the week looks awesome for painting so, with any luck, we'll splash this Friday. But my money's on Monday. Yep, I'm a curmudgeon.

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Pros are done

Sanding selfie
We left the boat for about 5 days or so while the pros stripped all the paint from the bottom of the boat. They did a great job, taking it down the the gelcoat on the fiberglass. Apparently, they used glass beads that are recycled to accomplish this these days.

But there was a small surprise once stripped. The surface is pocky in places. The folks here think the gelcoat wasn't properly done which made for the rough and pitted surface. But to properly deal with it means we need to fill those holes and pocks with an epoxy which will better seal the bottom. 

So we're doing that now, and the process will cost us a couple of days before we can start painting.

First we have to sand the surface, then apply the epoxy.
Slowly turning her into a pinto.


The epoxy starts out blue, then turns pink when ready to sand.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

New Bern

Ah! Network!

Took a longer trip today to New Bern. We're not at the fun marina across the way, sadly, near a town with... stuff! We're at the Bridgeton Boatworks on the other side of the Neuse (pronounced "noose") River. Tomorrow they will haul the boat and check the bottom, then give us a quote for blasting off the old paint and putting on some new coats. We had inQuest painted about 9 months ago, but knew from that hauling we'd need to start over the next time.

Flat flat flat!
Gorgeous day on the water which means I have not real story to share. Water was flat to mostly-flat the entire trip. Only as we got to New Bern did the winds pick up a bit to about 5 or 6 mph. So, really nothing of note.

If we go through with the repaint we believe that process will take a couple of weeks to do. We are not allowed to live on the boat when it's on the hard. It's unclear what we'll do during that time, but I predict hotels are in our future.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Campbell Creek, docked at the Lab Partners!



Beth and Rip Tyler are the crew of Lab Partners. They also have a home just off the Goose River, complete with dock. We'd been here before, when we were the loop last year. But as we came up north a few months ago we hustled by on our way to Baltimore. It was good to see them again.

The trip here was without incident, except for that one guy that blew by us in some fancy, overpowered boat without hailing us or offering a slow pass. It was the first time Russ got on the radio and yelled at someone about their wake. We heard a litany of other boaters ahead of us doing the same as he continued to motate ahead of us. Some people are just butterheads.

The upper deck was COVERED!

Last night was an absolutely glorious night. Before the moon came out the sky was stuffed with stars. Planets and the Milky Way were crystal in view. We had to enjoy it all, however, from within the boat. For whatever reason we were bombarded by some kind of flying bug, about the size of mosquitoes but these didn't bite. Just swarmed. Our boat was covered the next morning. Russ took a towel and waved it to scare them off. Which worked, but then a swarm of birds came by to feast on the swarm of bugs. 

Oh, the joys of boat life.


THIS! This is how I like my water!

I call this "Bird Breakfast"


Alligator River, anchorage

Yesterday the weather was not great. Rainy on and off all day, but very windy. In fact, the NOAA water reports for the Albemarle said "rough waters." HA! These guys tend to be the most understated organization when it comes to water reports, so if they claim the waters are "rough", good gravy, they must be terrible! I'm thinking 10 foot waves, people!

Meanwhile, whether it be from Sunday, or the weather, or Covid, the town of Columbia didn't even unroll their sidewalks. We saw absolutely no one all day.

The little dot in the center is inQuest.
I call this photo "The Loniliest Anchorage."
Given the "rough waters" of yesterday we weren't sure what to expect today. Winds are calm, but water can slosh for a while. We decided to "poke our nose out" and see how things were, fully prepared to turn right around and wait another day. As it turned out the water was peachy, 1 foot or less, and dwindled as we went along.

We are glad we did the Albemarle Loop. It's good to explore new things, dock in new marinas, and see tiny towns. But mostly we're glad we did it because we won't be tempted to do it again. Mostly due to the Albemarle itself. With the exception of the day we crossed it heading north to Coinjock today was the best day on it. And we were on it quite a few days. 

There is a boat ramp at the end of
"Deliverance Creek"
Our Navionics recommended a route the hugged the short, staying on the land side of the large rhombus area that is used as a bombing zone. We thought that was pretty silly given the depths so we went around. But we got board so we risked cutting through it to get to the Alligator River. Judging by the crap pots we had to dodge, we were perfectly safe.

Once anchored we fed the dog and took her on her dinghy ride to shore. Early today Russ contacted Beth and Rip Tyler (they live near here -- we'll see them tomorrow, in fact) and asked about this particular anchorage. They said it was one of their favorites, and they love the little dinghy ride up "Deliverance Creek".

O.o

Okay, that's only what they called it.

You got down this narrow channel about a half mile
to get to the little dinghy dock.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

Columbia, town dock

As boaters we do our best to travel when the weather allows us. Looking forward to the next few days, if we didn't leave Plymouth today we might have had to stay there for several days. The forecast told us winds of less than 10 mph would be NNE. Our route would be more easterly, which isn't great for us (the catamaran doesn't ride very comfortably with the waves on our nose), but a NNE wind should be dandy.

We would have left earlier but there was
some kind of fishing event going on.
But, sometimes the forecast is wrong. 

Winds were higher than 10 mph, especially past the bridge into the wider body of the Albemarle. More problematic, though, was they were also mostly from the east.

The Albemarle is longer east to west, and totally exposed from the east. If the winds are coming solidly from the east, the resulting waves could have started somewhere in the Atlantic. These days are not recommended for traveling.

Not great water
The ride to the bridge was fine. After, however, the wave continued to grow. We mostly took these on the quarter beam, so the ride was fine, but the waves were solidly growing to 2 - 3 feet. But once we made the turn to head toward Columbia, the waves were on our beam. We hate that!

We tried to ride it out for a while, dealing with the rocking from side to side, but we could hear items in cabinets in the galley slamming around. The ride, while not as bad, was reminiscent of our crossing. After a particularly bad roll (our data monitors told us we rocked around 12 degrees) which knocked over computers and other items we changed our course a bit to quarter the waves. That helped. Then we tried to tack back, but our angle was still too straight for the waves. We tacked out again for another few minutes, then turned back. That last ride, with the occasional 4 foot wave, was smooth. As soon as we got land between us and the wind the water simply laid down. 

At the town dock in Columbia, NC.
The river is called the Scuppernong.
I don't know why that makes me laugh.
The rest of the ride was without incident.

The winds will remain for a few days. We will be staying here. It's only another 3 hours of travel to get off the sound, but we're gonna try for a very dull day.