Monthly Archives: November 2012

The view from the front porch

Sunrise, Ashley River, Charleston, South Carolina


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Why is this so familiar ?

After our pre dawn breakfast tease in Wrightsville Beach we were excited to spend some quality time in Southport. If you remember dear readers, we tied up to their expensive Southport Marina after the aptly named Cape Fear River kicked our butts so comprehensively that we turned around and sought refuge out of the river. We left the next day. Did I mention that the price included CATV?

Today after feeling relatively confident that Escape Velocity would stay put at anchor we dinghied into the Provision Company’s dock and walked a couple of blocks into a very cute town. Beautiful old seaside mansions and a town filled with ice cream, Christmas, antique, and coffee shops…hey that coffee shop looks familiar, but we’ve never been here before. We just stopped for a night.

I have a visual memory. If the GPS says go right but the graphic shows a left, I go left every time. I will say I can be fooled occasionally but this is very strange. No…we’ve been here before. Shop after shop became familiar as we walked around. We must have walked into town from the marina, which is much further and uses a different street.
Major senior moment, but it’s amazing how much we did in a very short timeframe.

Tuesday dawned cloudy with a threat of rain so we spent most of the day getting Escape Velocity ready for our passage to Charleston which included a mostly Marce project, sewing the clear plastic window, damaged by Sandy, back into the dodger. She is seen here in her Ninja Sewing outfit. Believe me this is hard to do by hand and we had about two and a half feet of bad stitching to replace.

It’s great to have this done.


Just as we wrapped this project it began to rain. This will have to do as the view from the back porch.


It’s better with sunshine. Blue water tomorrow, with a couple of days in Charleston as reward. That’s life on the water.


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The view from the back porch



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Poised and ready

After yet another sub-freezing night we forced ourselves to launch the dinghy at daybreak and motor ashore, then walked a mile to the Causeway Cafe, recommended by cruisers as the best breakfast on the East Coast.



Jack ordered “Eggs Neptune,” a version of Benedict with crab instead of Canadian bacon. He loved it.


Unfortunately, my breakfast sucked. I ordered Cinnamon Raisin Sourdough French Toast. It came dry and cold to the table. I sent it back but it wasn’t any better when it was returned. It was clear it wasn’t made to order, probably frozen and reheated. I was very disappointed because I love French toast, hot, sizzling and crispy off the griddle, creamy inside. This was not that. It was inedible, and the waitress was so clueless when she saw I didn’t eat it that she asked if I wanted a box to take it home. I let the hostess know it was bad, and she took a look and agreed it didn’t look right, but didn’t take it off the check. Too bad. I was geared up for a killer meal, but my vote for best breakfast still goes to Pamela’s in Pittsburgh.

On the way back to the boat we passed a floating reminder of Thanksgiving.


We were underway by nine and back in the ICW by 9:30, right on schedule. Today we had to time our passage to be sure we had a favorable current down the Cape Fear river. For most of the way we kept alert for shoaling at the many inlets. We poked along through shallows at least four times but luckily never hit bottom.

Our timing for the river was perfect. We had a few miles of wind against current which makes it a little bumpy, but it didn’t last long. We arrived in Southport by 1:00 and circled the tiny town anchorage before deciding to drop the hook in this very tight space. We’ll be here for two days while we wait for the wind to clock around for a fair passage to Charleston and we needed to be sure we have swinging room for the change in wind direction.


We have a great view out toward the Cape Fear inlet, and saw the USNS William McLean, a dry cargo and ammunition ship, leave port while we ate lunch.


We went ashore and took a little walk around town. When we got back home I realized I had two different shoes on. On my left foot, a Brooks Ariel, on my right, a New Balance 940. Not even close! And different colors, too. I’m going to have to watch that.

We crossed a bit of a milestone today. We had to change the card in the chartplotter from “MidAtlantic” to “SE US including Bahamas.” I always get a little nervous doing this because they are old compact flash cards with the multipin connector that failed on us last July. I was very gentle and the changeover was successful.


Tomorrow we’ll do a few boat chores and I’ll cook some meals to reheat during our short passage. It’ll be another cold night but sunshine again tomorrow.


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The view from the back porch

Setting sun, rising moon over Southport, NC.



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We didn’t even run aground once.

In a stressed filled, but short, day’s run we slowly pulled into the anchorage at Wrightsville Beach. I remember peeking into Mott’s Channel when we passed through here on the way up North, but then we were hungry for more distance and due to very long delays waiting to pass through their Bascule Bridge, we had a close thing getting to fuel and someplace to tie up for the night.

This night we were in another nice anchorage and I wish we’d stopped here on the way up. The view from the back porch isn’t bad either.

About the only drawback is that we’re in Carolina Skiff land. I’ve never seen a brand dominate the way these things have down here…OK maybe the iPhone, but my point is that you take one of these things, and they’re not just painted in camouflage anymore. No, you have your white and powder blue, yellow, or even orange, all two tone. You clamp on a large Japanese outboard, and this is critical, you throw in a bunch of fishing rods, because, forgive me Shecky, you put fishing rods in a boat, the captain goes crazy!

They’re buzzing us right now, flying right through the anchorage, waking everyone, fishing rods bobbing in the back. What is it about fishing rods and the average American boater?

Anyway, Escapees, I tell you we had to coordinate the bizarre opening schedules of a multitude of articulated bridges causing us to push really hard in badly shoaling water and alternatively poke along waiting for a bridge to open. This was the chief reason to keep our distance conservative today and I’m glad we did.

Tomorrow we’ll dinghy into town to have breakfast at the Causeway Cafe claimed, by our friends Ed & Sue on Angel Louise, to have the best breakfast on the East Coast! We’ll be the judge of that.

That’s life on the water.


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Frost warning

It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit in the bridge deck when I got up this morning, and colder in the hulls. After running a space heater on the generator for an hour the bridge deck was up to a balmy 45 degrees, warm enough to stop shivering and have coffee and breakfast.

Southport would be a doable run in the summertime when the days are longer but today we’ll make a shorter trip. I checked the weather and this cold snap goes all the way to Florida so we can’t motor our way to warmth just yet. Southport, Charleston, Brunswick and St. Augustine all have frost advisories this week. The weather gods are not smiling on those of us who dilly-dallied up north.



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Inside again

We had every intention of making the 36 hour passage from Beaufort, NC, to Charleston, SC. But when we did our final weather check this morning there was a small craft warning from Beaufort to Surf City with gusty winds and contrary waves, then after the front moved through the wind will die nearly completely. So we were facing 18 hours of sailing in uncomfortable chop, then 18 hours of motoring in confused seas. No thanks. There will be times when we won’t have a choice but to sail in imperfect conditions, but we did have a choice today, and we chose to go the ICW route to Southport where the weather looks good for an outside run to Charleston later in the week. We lined up with all the other boats caught too far north and anxious to get south. Sometimes there were so many boats so close, I took to analyzing what everyone was wearing and rethinking my own cold weather gear.

We went aground once in the middle of the channel in Bogue Sound but Jack managed to get us off before too long. Good thing, too, because the wind was blowing us further toward the shoal and I was preparing an anchor to kedge us off, or at least hold us in one place until the tide rose. It was so cold we didn’t want to have to sit and wait for a couple of hours for higher water. 20121124-173227.jpg

Since we know we can’t make the passage to Charleston until at least Wednesday, there’s really no hurry to get to Southport so we planned to anchor tonight at a small dredged basin in the area of Camp Lejeune. So did all the other boats.20121124-174527.jpg

We’re warming up with hot mulled cider and we’ll have homemade soup and biscuits for dinner and another early night because it’s way too cold to stay up. I imagine it’ll be an early start for everyone.



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Shake off the mud

As always, by the time Jack and I crawled out from under the covers Snow White was already gone. We took our time getting our act together given that we only had about 22 miles to go and life would be so much more pleasant once the sun warmed us up a little. Jack suggested we raise the main at anchor to allay my fears that we might not have it furled properly and to check the wayward number four batten pocket. It was nearly dead calm so we hoisted the main and refurled it, which straightened out the wrap on the mandrel and reassured me that all was well with the sail. Except sure enough, that number four batten pocket is way crooked and there’s no way a batten wouldn’t get broken when forced to wrap around the mandrel. I can’t believe no one ever noticed this. We’ll give the original sailmaker a call when we get to his neck of the woods. In the meantime, we go without number four.

We weighed anchor and left Oriental, a moment that was preserved forever by the anchorage webcam.


It was warm enough to roll up the center window for a while and we had an uneventful run down to Moorhead City, accompanied for a few minutes by a couple of dolphins.




We took the easy way out and tied up to the Sanitary Seafood Company dock for $25, then took a turn around town, stopping for coffee and a pastry at a cute little shop that also had this for sale:


Cute joke? Or bad spelling. You decide.

We caught the last few thin rays of sunshine before we had to retreat inside from the rising damp.



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A Thanksgiving in limbo, er, Oriental

Thursday morning was another chilly day, but with a little sun and that makes all the difference. We started the day at the Bean, which was as crowded as we’ve ever seen it, even including when we were here in the summer.


We parked ourselves at a table and settled in for the long haul. I made periodic trips across the street to feed a washer and dryer, hoping to improve the aroma in EV from being cooped up in a damp boat in the same clothes for weeks on end.


When the Bean closed its doors at noon we were forced to head back to the boat. I hung the still-damp clothing in the cockpit and Jack end-for-ended the jib sheet and taped a few stray meat hooks on the boom vang. We both worked on cleaning the vinyl windows in the cockpit enclosure in preparation for a morning departure.


We picked up Alan from Snow White and dinghied ashore to the Toucan Grill a little ahead of our reservation time and they were able to seat us right away. We were surprised at how many people apparently don’t cook at home on Thanksgiving and grateful to have this alternative to our traditional family gathering. Jack and Alan gave the turkey and prime rib two thumbs up and the sides were plentiful and varied.



We were glad we’d gone early and had a lovely evening ride back to our boats.





We topped off the day with one of those family phone calls where we get passed around the dinner table from person to person. We’d hoped to FaceTime and actually see each other but unfortunately we couldn’t make the connection. It was great to be able to chat a little with everyone though, and between the blog and Facebook we feel very much in touch with most of our family. Still, we can see that holidays are going to be a little different for the foreseeable future.

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