Monday, August 31, 2009

Thank You Sir: May I Have Another?

For good reason some readers have commented on the maintenance issues experienced aboard Meredith in the past 2 weeks.

Let us be perfectly clear: There is nowhere else we want to be.

Breakdowns go with sailing. We were caught offguard because we thought we had a solid regular maintenance program. Technical "issues" are always noted in our log.

Reviewing the list you will notice one glaring absence: No diesel issues. None. The Beta 43, a marinized Kubota diesel, has worked flawlessly and the mechanic appears to have done good work on the purely mechanical end of thing

Meredith was left in Beaufort for its repowering because that is where the transmission failed on our trip north last spring. The yard where the work was done was held in high regard by us and still is. It seemed a perfect time have matters attended to.

That may now be in doubt.

Four months sitting on the hard in a North Carolina summer was just more than any boat should be subjected to. We find ourselves regretting have done so.

Summer down here is brutal. Like London, Ontario it is hot and humid but it is 10 - 15 degrees hotter and humidity is over the top of any scale ever conceived in Ontario.

This week promises a break from the heat and a host of cleaning and waxing projects are on the board.

Our biggest trouble right now is boredom. Poor us. The Chesapeake is pretty dull resembling Lake Huron in many ways: big empty water. There are nice rivers to motor up for sure but we would not trade the North Channel for the Chesapeake.

Arrangements are in place for Annapolis Boat Show reunions with friends coming by car and by boat. This is becoming a major event on our cruising calendar.

Until Annapolis we will spend our time honing sailing skills. After the boat show we plan to do some distance sailing to further build skills and avoid the ICW on our journey south.

The boaters we have met here this past fortnight are all doing the same thing so we consider ourselves in good company.

So we are still living the right life. It is just that we are starting to make demands on it rather than being satisfied with what the life serves up.

In Crisfield MD waxing deck and hull.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crisfield MD - What a Watertown Should Be

Crisfield Harbour
from the Deck of Meredith at Anchor

Crisfield MD exists to serve its "watermen": the guys who daily go out on the Chesapeake to earn their living. A true fishing town it has no guile.

A very secondary purpose is providing a venue for Washington technocrats to play at being watermen.

Its harbour is easily entered and once inside you find a protected enclave large enough for a dozen boats without squeezing. Space is shared with the local marina and the Coast Guard Outpost.

The local marina has 450 slips but is only half full which is a shame.

Once anchor is dropped it is a 30 second dinghy ride to the marina where, for $10, you can tie up, go to town, use their unbelievable showers and their laundromat. Staff are the friendliest we have encountered anywhere and love to engage in challenging conversation.

A short walk from the marina takes you to Main Street and all the action Crisfield has to offer: Three or four working crab operations, marine supply and outfitting, a bevy of bars and restaurants and a well stocked grocery. And of course Big Willey's:

Notice the Mosquito Slurping Up the Beer

Meredith came here for an overnighter to avoid the effects of Hurricane Danny. Our current intentions are to remain for several days to do some needed sanding and painting of wood and some cleaning and sealing of hull and deck.

If you are sailing the Chesapeake and you are not all that enamoured with Tourist Land we strongly recommend you come over to the East shore of the Bay and visit Crisfield.

It is worth your time.

Make that a Double Our Father with a side of Holy Ghost and Could you Supersize the Holy Water?

Onancock VA (o - NAN - cock) Harbour

What a name: that bizarre juxtaposing of the shortened Onanism with the vernacular term for the object of most onanism. It was not a good omen.

Anchoring in the Onancock River was a challenge. There are only 3 anchorages listed in the two guides we have on board and they disagree with one another as to which anchorage is acceptable. It was moot as none of the anchorages could contain anything larger than a rowboat.

We chose the largest and most open anchorage hoping to pick up some breeze. The available footprint for anchoring was small. Very small. Here is a shot of the screen from the chartplotter showing my manoeuvering as I scoped out the limits of acceptable depth. Acceptable depth is defined as anything more than 6 inches deeper than my keel at low tide.

The red marker shows the Southern limit of the channel. Screen width is about 75 feet. The scribbly area below and to the right of the red marker, measuring about 40' x 40' is the only acreage available with depth over 6 feet. Tight anchorage for even one boat!

After anchoring we repaired the anchor washdown pump and then went for a swim. The water was 34 degrees Celsius. Our water was warmer than your air. Not too shabby.

Next morning we went to town. This is where it gets interesting.

On the walk in we came upon a plaque, a copy of which is included so you will know that I am not making this stuff up:
This Francis Makemie guy started the first organized Presbyterian Church of America and issued licenses to other Presbyterian Churchs.

He Franchised God!!!! Onancock was his first place of business.

Imagine the business meetings: "Repent you heathen sinner. Oh, he has paid his license fees, well then... Go with God brother. And be a bit more timely with those quarterly payments in future."

Instead of the Golden Arches he had the "Burnin Bush of Jeeesuss"

The Makemie plaque was a find but it got better just down the street:

Sounds like the place to which disgraced Baptist homosexuals go to be "converted" into frustrated Baptist homosexuals.

What the Chinese would call " Re education" and the Russians called "Indoctrination".

I have other words in mind.

Our purpose in going to town was to grab breakfast and buy some bread.

Onancock however has become a quaint "tourist" destination and breakfast is not a favoured meal in Tourism Land. How can it be? There is no profit in breakfast.

We tried all three restaurants in town that were open and none served breakfast. One only served coffee and "donuts" and one with "OPEN" sign alighted was actually closed. The other did not serve breakfast.

Now I am being quite specific here. When Adam was in the Garden of Eden he was instructed by God to name all things important to man. Right then and there he defined "breakfast" as "Fried Eggs, sausage, home fries and brown toast". Omelette is one of those danged New Testament words that should just be banned.

The Onancock restauranteurs need a little Christian Psychotherapy. All you could avail yourself of here was a highly value added "sun dried tomato and goat cheese omelette". How quaint.

I know it was highly value added the price was double what any sane person would pay.

And you could only get that if you got up from your table and went to the counter to order it yourself and then got your own coffee and any refills needed to while away the hour it took to cook those eggs.

You could not get home fries. They "aren't very healthy you know" we were informed when the plates arrives with diced boiled potatoes.

We had the audacity to ask if they could perhaps just put the potatoes on the grill for a few minutes. And maybe add an egg or two since they obviously had eggs or how could they make omelettes?

I am pretty sure I made my point because the lady at the counter charged me for the refill on the coffee I had to get up and get for myself.

How quaint.

Then we were off downtown to buy some bread. An easy task this as we had passed the town bakery on our way to the "restaurant".

The bakery staff informed us they did not make bread. Only doughnuts they expanded, which they spelled as "donuts".

How quaint.

Where we inquired would one buy bread in Onancock if one wanted to pursue such an obviously futile task? Why "the hardware store" answered the staff woman as if we were a bit slow.

Buy your bread at the hardware store not the bakery.

How quaint.

The hardware store was closed. The sign in the window explained that the owner was sick. By this time we shared his malady. We hightailed it out of Onancock.One of the smaller homes in Onancock. The big houses were well hidden behind sumptuous gardens all along the river.

Equipment Issues - The First Ten Days Back

Looks Perfect Doesn't She?

With a new diesel just installed and the boat having been on the hard for the past 4 months we expected to be able to focus on breaking in the diesel in the early days of our renewed voyage.

The diesel has not given us a moment's grief. Or so we think. Who has time to look?

What did give us grief:

  • Reinstalling the missing base for removable bulkhead in the aft lazarette which the mechanic "forgot".
  • Relocating the supersized water strainer the mechanic insisted on installing that was so unnecessarily huge it prevented the removable bulkhead from being put back in place
  • Cleaning the unrelenting amount of mess and damage left by the mechanic doing the engine replacement and caused by the failure of anyone to install any covers on anything while the old diesel was removed and the new one installed. Connie even found a 2 oz glob of grease in the fridge. IN THE FRIDGE.
  • Repacking the stuffing box which was too hot to touch after 20 minutes of running
  • Rewiring the engine electrics which had been totally massacred by the mechanic. Things are working and charging now. We hope to have our Link 10 battery monitor operational within a week..
  • Removing and repairing the anchor Washdown pump which failed and disinfecting the compartment in which it resides.
  • Reinstall autopilot hydraulics - ram and pump - which we removed and brought to Canada with us for overhaul.
  • Trying to figure out why the autopilot would not work. Blaming the failure on air in the system requiring we bleed it properly. Bleeding and bleeding and bleeding the bleeding thing. Finally realizing the problem was with the settings on the electronics and finding acceptable settings. The bleeding thing now works perfectly.
  • Freeing up the lock screws on the outboard which had frozen in place requiring massive thumps with a hammer to free up even after two days of PB Blaster treatment.
  • Getting the outboard to run after 4 months. Even though the fuel was stabilized something was amiss. New plugs and carb cleaning did the trick
  • dismantling the Boom Gallows which sheared off on the Port side
  • changing all engine and transmission fluids and filters.
I sure hope the diesel is working fine cause we have not had time to check.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Log: August 18 to 28, 2009

The routine log entries from Beaufort NC to Crisfield MD.

August 18: Campbell Creek
Lat/Lon: 35 17 N 76 37.5 W

Leave Bock Marine planning a short day. We are fresh back from 4 months off and are trying a new diesel. It is hot. Mid 90's. Humidity through the roof.

Half an hour out Bob checks the stuffing box to ensure it is cool. The mechanic adjusted the box on the calibration run but we have experience with airplane mechanics and know you have to double check everything. The box is too hot to touch! Connie brings the engine to full stop and Bob loosens the pressure nut taking off all pressure to allow the water to run free through the gland. The water is so hot Bob thinks he has scalded his hands. Adjust stuffing box for cool running. Test in half an hour and all is well.

Spend night at Campbell Creek. We have passed no boat today and there is one boat in the anchorage beside us.

We sleep in separate rooms with the fans on full. Two bodies in one room raise the temperature 15 degrees. No one sleeps well.

August 19: Alligator River Green Marker 43
Lat/Lon: 35 40.5 N 76 03.3W

Another scorcher. No one is peeing. We drink all day and eat small meals to leave room for water. We do not pee.

Connie is getting very angry with all the dirt and small damage she is finding from the mechanic who replaced the diesel. It is becoming abundently clear that this guy covered nothing up in the boat and despite my first impression cleaned up almost nothing after himself. Piles of sawdust and dirt are all over the boat. Grease was dripped into the fridge.

The autopilot is malfunctioning: at unpredictable points it starts to swing the wheel back and forth in a repetitive swing motion. It does this endlessly until someone steadies the wheel by hand. Bob figures the hydraulics, just overhauled, have not been properly bled and he bleeds the system again.

This part of the ICW takes us past Oriental NC, a favourite sailing stop for many but not us. Unsure of our fuel reserves we round the Pungo River bend at Belhaven and pull into at Dowry Creek Marina for fuel.

As we approach the fuel dock Connie is ignored by the old dock hand standing beside the pump who managed only to complain, as she is tying her own bow line, that we had not phoned ahead to let them know we were getting fuel. A bit outraged Connie informed the old fool that we had never phoned ahead for fuel, that no other marina anywhere had suggested such a ludicrous thing and that really we did not need his fuel. As she started to remove the bow line he recanted and played nice. Dowry Creek is off our list.

The new diesel, working fabulously has burned about 1 gallon per hour. Not bad but we hope to do much better.

We complete the Pungo River - Alligator River Canal and tie up at Green Marker 43 in the Pungo River just at a little bight.

August 20: Elizabeth City
Lat/Lon: 36 18 N 76 12.2 W

Easy if very hot transit up the Alligator River and across the Albemarle. Easy transit of the Albemarle - second time in a row. Maybe we need to change our view of this body of water.

Autopilot continues to malfunction. The problem is bearable but frustrating. Bob still figures the problem is in hydraulics and is probably an air bubble. He takes the heavy tools into the lazarette and realigns some hose connections to ensure no hoses are above the pump. The system is bled again.

Hurricane Bill is threatening and we decide to stay in EC for a bit to wait out what could be nasty winds and rain.

Change the transmission fluid at 25 hours. It is dark and contains grindings from the breakin.

Groceries at the Farm Fresh market (they pick us up and drop us off). Bob hides in the library all day reading in the air conditioning.

Temperatures are not abating nor is the humidity. No one is sleeping for the heat. We are still in separate bedrooms each night.

August 23: Deep Creek Lock, Great Dismal Swamp.
Lat/Lon: 36°44.75 N 76°20.3W

The usual wonderful sail up the Pasquotank River. Caught the 7:30 a.m. bridge just north of Elizabeth City and steamed for the Mill Creek Lock to make the 11:00 a.m. locking. We made it with 20 minutes to spare.

Cruised the Dismal Swamp. Stopped at the Visitor Centre which is a waste of time. Bob is worried about water storage and the book says water is available at the Centre. It is but you need a 200 foot hose.

On the North half of the Swamp we touched at least 20 or 30 deadheads - all but one of them submerged and just bouncing on the bottom. Do not recommend the Dismal Swamp for anyone drawing more than our 5 feet. We wonder ourselves if we will do it again - but the allure of La Familia and Elizabeth City is pretty great.

Autopilot still entering its endless loop swinging of the wheel back and forth but it is reduced. Bob is starting to mutter to himself about this problem.

Tie up at the La Familia Restaurant Parking Lot for dinner and the night.

A nice night but still too hot.

August 24: Poquosan River, West Bank Chesapeake
Lat/Lon: 37.17 -75.99

We leave the Dismal Swamp and sail through Norfolk. There are no ships there!! This is a disconcerting comment on the state of world affairs. Virtually every ship in the US Naval Eastern Fleets is at sea, save only 6 aircraft carriers that look mothballed and a couple of destroyers. If it floats the Navy has it working.

The heat has not abated but as we approach the Chesapeake we get some wind. Finally abatement.

Connie reports the anchor washdown pump is nonfunctional.

Autopilot still not working but problem is bearable.

We choose the Poquosan River for anchoring, because it is wide open to wind and waves, not usually a good choice for anchorage. Tonight we want all the wind we can get and we anchor as far from protection as we can. The night is tolerable but we are still in separate rooms.

August 25: Kiptopeke State Park
Lat/Lon: 37.17 -75.99.

Today we sail across the Bay. It is a grand if slow procession. Wind makes only 7 knots and Meredith does a respectable 4.5 knots out of this. Then the wind falls to 5 knots and Meredith to 3.

We do not care. It is only 20 miles to our destination: Kiptopeke State Park and we have all day to get there. It takes until late afternoon but we are heartened by Meredith's light wind sailing.

Kiptopeke is odd: formerly a dock for a ferry the ferry company created a breakwater for its ships by sinking a bunch of pensioned off cement carriers a few hundred yards offshore. It works but man is it ugly.

There is a cool irony here. The ships making up the breakwater were used to haul cement. Now their bilges are full of cement. Funnier yet is that the ships themselves, we discovered while exploring in our dinghy are made out of cement.

We are tired and stay an extra day at Kiptopeke.

A ketch rigged Down Easter joins us and we have a pleasant chat with the fellow who not only single hands his boat but also is restoring it himself. Nice guy who will run to Florida.

Bob plays with the anchor chain washdown pump but no success.

Autopilot still not working but problem is workable.

August 27: Onancock VA
Lat/Lon: 37.7° N 75.8° W

We start out from Kiptopeke with full sails up in 10 knots of wind. We are making a good 5 to 5.5 knots in the water.

The wind falls to 7 knots so we motorsail.

The wind falls to 3 knots and just motor.

Boom Gallows breaks. Breaks right off at the deck on the Port side where it is fixed by a quarter inch thick walled pipe. We hurry to remove the bolt from the Starboard side pipe and lay the boom gallows on deck. Connie uses mitts on the pipe ends to protect the deck from damage.

Entry to Onancock is like an aboriginal dance with many jogs back and forth but once entry is gained the river is pleasant. The banks are populated with very expensive houses and the air is filled with the sound of lawnmowers. There are 3 anchorages in this river: North branch which we did not try, a very small spot with poor holding at Red 37 and a small bight in the river at Red 34. We take Red 34 on a short scope due to its small footprint.

Trying to set up the dinghy we find the outboard is irretrievably locked to the Pushpit. Its two locking screws have frozen solid and will not budge despite repeated application of PB Blaster and taps from the hammer. More solid taps prove to be the answer but PB Blaster will be applied regularly from now on.

The outboard will not start. Forty or fifty pulls produce nothing. We install new sparkplugs, clean the carb, cross our fingers and try again. It runs.

The washdown pump is broken. We need it to clean the mud off the anchor rode as we lift it from muddy river bottoms. Without the cleaning all that mud ends up in the anchor locker which is accessable to the main berth. This mud stinks. Bob removes the washdown pump for repair and Connie empties the entire locker in which the pump resides, removes some very old and stagnant water and disinfects the whole compartment. Bob reinstalls the pump. Slick with sweat we jump naked into the Onancock River and swim for half an hour.

The Onancock River is about 35 degrees Celsius. Word.

Air temp cools to mid 80's and we sleep in the same room for the first time in more than a week. Peeing remains a concern but some function is returning.

Onancock is a bust of a town and not worth the diesel fuel burned to come up the river.

August 28: Crisfield, MD
Lat/Lon: 38.0° N 75.8° W

Leaving Onancock, after a sad breakfast and a walkaround of sorts we had 2 possible destinations, both on the west bank of the Chesapeake: Deltaville and Reedville. We set sail in the 10 knot breeze and discuss options. Hurricane Danny is approaching and weather is forecast to turn quite unpleasant for later today, Saturday and especially Sunday.

We discard Deltaville as we would have to backtrack south. Reedville has a vile smelling fish processing plant that we decide we could not bear for 3 days in a blow.

Casting about we spy Crisfield. It is on the East bank but it has a store and a good anchorage.

Done. Off we go due North with a 10 knot following wind. We motorsail, anxious to get to Crisfield before the anchorage fills.

Autopilot is fixed!!! An adjustment to the electronics increasing the tolerance for off course tracking was the answer - NOT BLEEDING. Problem seems solved.

Meredith is anchored just west of the Coast Guard station and we are the only boat in the anchorage. Again. This is getting dull.

First rain from Danny has already hit us and we are waiting for the wind due tomorrow. This anchorage feels properly secure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Planning a Route

Some people have asked how we go about our destination planning aboard Meredith. This is germane as we have just changed our plans yet again and ditched a junket to Nantucket in favour of staying in the Chesapeake. Here is how the consensus meeting went:

He: We have a great 3 day window for the overnight sail to Block Island, dear. We should get ready to go.

She: Well, yes. But we only have 5 weeks until Annapolis you know.

He: Sure but 3 days north, 3 days back and 3 days for weather still leaves a lot of time. We have no problems.

She: Well.... what about Washington?

He: Well, what about Washington. If we go North we can see more of New York. Washington has nothing on New York. Besides it is just too darn hot in the Chesapeake.

She: I know. But all those Art Galleries and Expositions and Museums aren't in New York.

He: Museums! There's lots of dirty dusty old stuff right here in the boat to look at.

She: Yes. Speaking of which: Are you going to go swimming tonight?

He [losing momentum]: What?

She: And what about the monuments. I WOULD like to see the Washington monument.

He: Well, if it is monuments you want to see C'mon over here for a minute.

She: pfffft.

Meredith enters the Pottomoc River on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Pasquotank to the Poquosan to Kiptopeke

The lovely breakwater at Kiptopeke State Park VA

Current location: Kiptopeke State Park
Lat/Lon: 37.17 -75.99

Today we set off from the Poquosan River, flipped a coin and settled on the Kiptopeke State Park as our destination. This park was described in the guide book as "known as a fine anchorage".

Wind was a variable 4 to 7 kts so we drifted across the Chesapeake at a princely 3 to 4.5 knots ourselves and considered it a fine demonstration of our sailing ability.

Arrival disclosed that the "fine anchorage" had been created by sinking a dozen old cement carriers to create a breakwater. It works I guess if you like rusty, filthy, cement coloured ships for your entire waterfront view and if the sound of several thousand guano producing skyrats.

As Connie says "It's such a nice sunset"

Sunset at Kiptopeke - You can just see the sun
over the prow of the two rust carriers
kissing in the foreground

At least it is safe here in the Chesapeake. Being close to Norfold security is tight. Last night we had lowlevel flyovers by heavily armed machine gun equipped helicopters. These flights are every half hour or so morning, noon and night.

I wonder if Bin Ladin's plan is to bankrupt the US through the defence budget.

Several Skyrats performing highlevel surveillance.

Tonight we sleep the sleep of the just and the well documented.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Playing in the Deep End of the Dismal Swamp

Current Location: Poquosan River
Lat: 37 10 38.2
Lon: 76 24 57.5

Leaving Beaufort we plied the ICW heading for cooler weather. Our first stop was in Campbell Creek, a nice anchorage. The next day in brutal heat we made better time and stopped at a bend in the Alligator River which offered open ground and thus better breezes. Next we spent a couple of days in lovely Elizabeth City.

Conditions are such that we are not peeing during the day. We drink continuously but until the sun goes down and work stops nothing hits the kidneys, or leaves them.

After Elizabeth City a favourite stop for us is the Deep Creek Lock at the North end of the Great Dismal Swamp.
Meredith tied up at the Parking Lot to La Familia Restaurant

Why do we like it so much? Well, it is free.

It is half a block to the Food Lion and Advance Auto Parts Store.

One of the tie ups is at the parking lot to the La Familia Restaurant and Cantina. The other tie ups are in a beautiful state park. But the allure of La Familia governs all.

It doesn't look like much on the outside:
and the inside is no improvement:

Catch the Retro tear in the Naugahyde
on the Chair in the foreground;
the one by the varnished plywood table

Then you meet Chison, the very Korean maitre d, kitchen boss and chief busser:

This charming Korean lady has worked at the La Familia for 6 years, since it opened in fact. Her command of Spanish is flawless as is command of her very Mexican staff.

From here I can feel the skin creeping on Richie and Ian, two fine dining afficionados from back home.

Ahh, but.....

There are the Margaritas. A 12 oz margarita, well made and perfectly chilled, is $4. A 22 oz margarita, which put me to sleep last night, was $5.50. The 32 oz version of this masterpiece was only $6.

Enough good booze to lose the feeling in your legs for only $5. You gotta come back to this place. Time and time again.

We do.

Finally there is Dave:
Dave was serving samples in the local Food Lion. Yesterday it was rice chex party mix. Dave was talkative and we reciprocated. He asked where we hoped to go over the winter and we replied "Cuba".

The air chilled a bit and Dave looked down. Then he looked up and said "oh, right you are Canadian".

We explained that we wanted to see Cuba before the new President completed his efforts to rationalize relations with Cuba opening up the whole island to American tourists.

The head went down again. "Mister" he said, head lowered, " You best not discuss politics in this country. It can be bad for you".

Nothing more was said and we finished our shopping.

An hour later we were back on the boat getting ready to go to La Familia. Dave drives in in his big four wheel drive pickup. I checked quickly for a gun rack on the back of the cab.

Dave gets out and hands us a bowl of party mix. "This was left over." he said, "I figured you sailor people might not get much good food being on a boat and all".

It was a remarkable gesture and Dave, you are an ok guy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How Many Characters are There in Bock?

This boat was just sailed from France by a family of four.

Bock Marine is a good boatyard. Inexpensive, safe and capable of performing most basic work on boats at reasonable rates it is a yard to which we have turned and returned without regret.

It has its quirks however. Many of the quirks have feet.

Here are Wade and Diane who have literally built their own boat, Joanna, a Roberts 53:

Wade had the steel hull built to his specs. Then he bought a farm with a barn so he could finish it. Ten years later he has a wonderfully overbuilt masterwork. Oh, during the ten years he served a couple of tours with NATO in Brussels and one in Croatia, got two masters degrees and married Diane. Diane learned how to sew, cook, navigate and manage Wade.

Joanna has a Miele washer and dryer, a Jenn Aire electric cooktop, handmade maple and mahogony doors and a two inch thick mahogany slab table. Nice boat.

Here are Jean Francoise and Thwee.

I do not know the name of their boat because the boat is so, well, rustic. You can see some of the rust running down the topsides just behind Jean Francoise. Tires for fenders, twenty or thirty water bottles stored on deck for who knows what, two kids and a dog.

We do not know much about Jean Francoise as neither he nor anyone in his family speak a word of English. The four of them including a ten and twelve year old child sailed their boat with no name across the Atlantic. They arrived, cleared customs and wanted to store the hull at Bock. Language was a problem but as always things worked out.

And then there is the Bock on the Hard liveaboards, a group of 3 old men living permanently on their boats while maintaining the illusing they are fixing their boats. Like Sisyphus rolling his rock perpetually uphill these men repair their wrecks only to find more problems as they go along and then more problems and more problems.

There is the Canadian expat who came to Bock 10 years ago and has lived here in his van ever since. He hates Canadians for causing the collapse of our currency against the US Dollar and thus ruining his retirement pension. So angry is this man that Connie felt genuinely in danger of being struck by him in one of his not infrequent tirades.

A second walks around the boatyard clothed only in a bath towel. He informed me one day his boat would take 2 years to finish. This would be the same 2 years he told me it would take back in 2005.

Yet a third constitutes a complete mystery as he never speaks. Any hour of the day he will be found sitting in the lounge peering into the internet on his old IBM laptop. He never reacts when people come in or leave. He just taps away and gazes. I wonder if the abyss also gazes?

Of course the crew of Meredith are repeat visitors to Bock Marine. We manage to sign ourselves out after a few months of rehab but we never fail to return.

It is nice to belong.

What Do Fools Do in Elizabeth City?

Meredith and Impulse docked at Elizabeth City, NC

Boarding Meredith at Bock Marine in Beaufort we headed North at speed to get out of the Hadean heat.

In 3 days of travel we have passed 2 boats.

We have been advised that only fools travel the waterway here during August. We depart again tomorrow.

The new diesel is performing admirably. With only 25 hours of operation we cannot assess the engine yet but it is certainly quieter and more powerful.

We find ourselves in Elizabeth City NC where we are moored waiting the passage of Hurricane Bill. As I write Bill is located just at our latitude but is a couple of hundred miles offshore. The Coast Guard is advising all vessels less than 150 feet in length to head for shelter.

When Bill has passed and the offshore seas have settled we will head for Norfolk VA. Then it is offshore for a 3 day sail to Nantucket or that general area. Departure from EC is set for tomorrow.

Elizabeth City NC is a fabulous stop. This town is famous on the ICW for its free town docks and welcoming wine and cheese parties hosted by the mayor.

Don, Joanne, Wade, Rose and Connie enjoy a drink at Seller's Wine Bar.

Parties are easy to come by on the water. Last night Connie suggested we walk downtown for an ice cream. Climbing off Meredith we ran into Don and Joanne from Impulse who thought ice cream sounded tempting. Crossing the parking lot we struck up a conversation with a couple of locals, Wade and Rose, who were going to the same place we were. The crew ended up in a wine bar with atrocious music and great conversation that continued for 3 hours.

Don and Joanne our neighbours aboard Impulse an Endeavour 32 lost their mast two months ago. A bridge that had opened for 3 waiting boats closed after only 1 boat had passed under. Tragically for him Don was the second boat and he nailed the closing span.

The impact broke his brand new mast in half at the lower spreader and the force of impact drove his stern under water flooding the cockpit and cabin.

Fortunately the boat held and the upper mast portion did not hole the boat or either Don or Joanne. Seven weeks later Impulse has another new mast.

No one from the bridge or the State of Maryland that operated the bridge has ever contacted Don or Joanne to see if anyone was hurt. Needless to say a lawsuit has been commenced.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some People Learn By Doing; I Learn by Doing it Wrong

A little short of sleep I will leave the good stuff for the next blog. That will bring comments on Jesus Radio, the Crap Lady and Lethal Canadian dope. For now something blander.

We are back in Morehead City. Well, the hotels in Morehead City are way too expensive. We took a very nice room at a new hotel in Greenville, NC at a more reasonable rate. We have to drive a few miles but we have the time and we enjoy exploring a bit.

We arrived by train in Rocky Mount NC only one hour late on a three hour trip. Given the pace of southern living this is on time service. Paperwork at the car rental agency took 2 hours but in fairness we were second in line.

Everyone is so friendly and inquisitive and talkative that people are just enjoying themselves, talking and laughing and listening. Unless you actually want to get something done, you hardly notice how long it is taking. Truth.

We decided against driving direct to the boat from Rocky Mount for a number of reasons. First among these was the illness unto death of the Budget Committee. Within minutes of leaving London Connie developed a truly debilitating nonstop cough and lost all energy. In this condition she road the rails to New York and spent a lovely 4 hours sitting on a bench in Penn Station awaiting our 3:00 a.m. departure to Washington. By this time her diaphram was so sore she was actually crying more than coughing.

As she said "this trip is downhill all the way". Arriving at the hotel in Rocky Mount she disrobed and fell into bed. Consciousness of a sort returned about 9:00 a.m. the next morning. Recovery is slow but steady.

Today, Wednesday, we drove to the boat, climbed aboard, looked at everything and said "Good. We have work to do. Tomorrow."

Actually the boat is in good order. The mechanic cleaned up after himself and both the lazarette and the salon are in modestly good order.

Tomorrow we launch. We have to secure all loose objects as Meredith will go out to calibrate the propeller with the new engine.

We are happy to be back at the boat although we miss the kids quite a bit. Our four months at home were a blessing although in fairness we did not recognize this at first. We are rethinking our planned returns home in light of this. More and longer visits are in order.