I admit in just two months as a fulltime cruiser I’ve already broken the Number One Rule: Don’t try to stick to a schedule. Living and traveling on a boat means you’re at the mercy of the weather and your boat, so any plans you make may need to be thrown out the window because there’s unfavorable weather ahead or something breaks. We’ve experienced both, and I find myself frustrated that our tentative schedule is flying out the window.
Weather has kept us from heading out into the ocean for a passage that would get us north far faster than motoring on the ICW. And then the only time we did get out to sea, both our autopilots stopped working, a disaster when there are only two people aboard to take turns hand-steering.
We’re also learning that to ask any three experts to diagnose a mechanical problem is to get at least as many opinions about what’s wrong. Not only that, but they will each laugh off the previous guy’s opinion as ridiculous. And so the saga of our non-working main autopilot continues, although the backup autopilot turned out to be a burned-out motor which is now replaced. And luckily the chartplotter’s problem was just a pin-connector coming loose inside, something that will haunt us in the future, but only when we have to change chart cards, which isn’t too often.
So we came to Oriental, NC, to see a marine electronics repairman. He’s the one who diagnosed the problem in the chartplotter, and also found a previously unnoticed problem with the autopilot. We thought we’d need a couple of days for repairs and booked a week at a marina to make life easier. Turns out this is the week of Croakerfest, an annual celebration of a fish. And even though I wish we were already in New England, and frustrated that we probably won’t be able to meet up with my family in Maine, I have to just roll with it and join the fun of Croakerfest.
The fun started yesterday, and no sooner had we arrived to the sounds of the Pamlico Community Band playing the dirge version of ET than we ran into our repairman, who pointed out that his technician plays trombone in the band. Hey! We already know people on stage! Moments later a woman came over and tapped both Jack and Peter to judge the baking contest.
They both jumped at the chance, although if they’d known ahead of time how long it would take, they may have declined. As the band progressed to a medley of Four Seasons hits, then on to Herb Alpert favorites, Jack and Peter tasted pies, cheesecakes, adult cookies, under-12 cookies, sweet breads and cakes.
I wandered through the book sale booth and listened to the band’s patriotic numbers and the Pamlico County Chorale’s singalong set of old favorites.
I struck up a conversation with the town’s only policeman who was keeping his eye on the blueberry pie, waiting for the judging to be over so he could buy it and take it home. It did look good. He told me there were 814 residents “in town now. There are 823 who live here, but 814 here now.”
“You know when people come and go?” I asked.
“They usually send me an email. ‘I’m going out of town for a couple of weeks.'”
“So you’ll keep an eye on things.”
“Do you have much crime here?”
“No. Not really. That’s good, because I don’t want to be chasing any young kids.”
Like most people we talk to, he was intrigued that we live on a boat and asked a lot of questions. I told him to stop over and see Escape Velocity if he wanted to.
When they finally finished the judging, Jack made a beeline to the BBQ pork booth run by the Rotary Club. I don’t know how he had room for that after so many sweets.
We stuck around for the crowning of Miss Croakerfest.
And watched the beginning of the twister tournament.
That was quite enough for one day.