Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Who Are Those Bimbos?

We mentioned Bimbos in several prior posts. No, they are not the hired models that frequent trade shows and who know nothing about the products that they are pitching. These are cookies! They are rather like Oreos, but have less filling. Of course, we couldn't pass up having Bimbos on board! It was quite the conversation piece.
bimbo Duplex Cookies - The Value Pack

One pack of bimbo cookies

The Thunderstorm!

Gee wrote about our weather adventures in Weather Adventures. It was the most powerful storm I have ever experienced on the water. Peggy and I had previously been hit in a Chesapeake Thunderstorm many years ago in which we couldn't see the instruments. I estimated that storm to be about 50 kn winds, because the rain felt like riding a motorcycle in the rain at about that speed. The rain has a bit of sting to it at that speed.

In our encounter in LUX, we could see it coming, so we battened down everything. Mike was driving. We put on foul weather gear (well, except Mike, who doesn't mind heat and cold so much). Mike should have put on his PFD and we should have all clipped into the jack lines. We were never at risk, but you never know what is going to happen that might slew the boat around, causing a broach that throws you across the boat.

I told Mike that we would continue on our course and that if things became dicy, we'd run with the storm. Running with a storm means that you're in the storm longer, but the apparent wind is less and riding down the face of the waves is easier on the boat than plowing into them. It didn't take long before the wind started lifting the dinghy on the bow. Our dinghy was tied down aft of the tramp, so wind had to work a bit harder to get under it. But it did and after it lifted the third time, I told Mike to turn and run with it. The waves were only about three feet at the time, so LUX did great in the turn. We had both motors going and were able to execute the turn quickly.

The wind came up to about 35-40 kn and seemed to stabilize and even reduced. I thought that perhaps we were through the worst. But then the wind suddenly picked up substantially. Visibility was down to about 50 yards. Interesting, since there were several shrimpers around the area. We weren't headed for any of them at the last time we could see, so we kept our fingers crossed and a good lookout ahead.

Since LUX has a nice hardtop bimini, Mike was able to watch the instruments and saw 65 kn on the anemometer. We were doing about 7.5 kn down the waves at that point, so we came up with 72 kn as the wind speed in the burst. Here's what it looked like out of the salon doors after the wind abated to about 35 kn.
After the Storm

Calibrating the Fuel Tank Sensor

Fuel Sensor Unit
On our trip, we had occasion to remove the fuel tank sensor to inspect the tank for muck or foreign objects that may be obstructing the fuel pickup. While we were doing this, we decided to calibrate the tank sending unit. It is based on a float that adjusts a small rheostat (variable resistor) that drives the gauge at the helm.

We checked that the gauge registered properly at both extremes and at the middle of the range by laying the sender on its side, as shown in the photo to the right, then moving the float all the way up (gauge reads full), the middle (gauge reads 1/2), and all the way down (shown here and the gauge reads empty).

We then loosened the keeper screw that holds the wire to the float. Slide the wire in the holder, holding the sender unit next to the tank until the float is near the bottom of the tank while the sender is held next to the tank. This sets the Empty position.
Adjust Float Wire for Empty

Verify that the gauge reads Full when the float is near the top of the tank.
Verify Gauge with Float at Full

It may be necessary to bend the wire a little so that you get full range from Empty with the float near the bottom of the tank, to Full near the top of the tank. When you're happy with the travel range and the reading on the helm gauge, tighten the keeper screw on the wire.

We had several inches of the float wire above the adjusting screw, so we bent the wire so that it would fit into the tank through the mounting hole. Cutting it off will work too, just put a bend in the end so that if the keeper screw ever loosens, the float won't fall off in the tank.

When working on the sensors, we found that the sensor unit screws are not drilled in a symmetric pattern. It is a good idea to scribe a mark on the sensor top and on the tank to indicate its orientation prior to removing it. Otherwise, you get to play an alignment game to determine the position in which all screws will fit into their holes.

Our fuel gauges now read accurately and we can use them to tell when the tanks are full when refilling. More importantly, we know when the tank is near empty!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home Again

We did leave Dun Cove by 5:30. As Mike piloted, Carol, Peggy and I packed. And by 9:35 AM, we were on the dock. Sam, Howard, Denise, Lars, and Rich were at the dock to greet us with champagne. Not only that, they stayed to help carry our luggage up the hill to Terry and Peggy's house. We talked, laughed, and had celebratory drinks. Then, Mike, Carol & Rich took LUX to her new berth in Annapolis. She goes out in charter tomorrow. Howard has offered to meet them at the dock and bring them back. Peggy and I are dog sitting with Emmy Lou and Maggie. It was a great adventure. For Peggy, it would be great to be home if the air conditioner worked. At least it is cool in here on the porch. Hope that lasts! And, now we must take the time to go through all the pictures, fix things up, and plan to annoy friends and strangers with our tales of 41 days on the water.

Back in Maryland

We have now officially been on the boat longer than Noah. We are up to 41 days. We are back in Maryland, and it truly is like being home in the summer. Up until now, we had on a long sleeve shirt most mornings. It has been pleasant and cool. So, what happens when we get home. It turns hot and humid. No wind. The haze today was so bad that you could only see out 2 nautical miles. Mike spent most of the day in the head, and not because he was sick. He was trying to get to the source of our head problems. Eureka! He found something in the starboard holding tank. I'm sure, dear reader, that you guessed what it was. Yes, it was a dish towel. How it got there is anybody's guess, but it was doing a great job of blocking progress. Works like a charm now! Mike also took apart the holding tank alarms - red lights that let you know it is full. The one on the starboard side needs to be replaced. The one on the port side now works. Mike also epoxyed a hole in the anchor locker. He also took care of some other little maintenance things. On another note, today in Maryland it appeared to be dragonfly day! They were all over the boat. None of us had ever seen that many at one time in one place. There had to have been 29 to 30 just sitting around on the back of the boat. We are now anchored in Dun Cove. I came up with a great new drink recipe for the evening. The blender came out. Fresh peaches and canned apricots went in with ice and wine! I then poured club soda in a glass and topped it with our fruit slushy! It was a delicious end to a long hot day on the water. Tomorrow is our last day. We plan to be up by 5. We will go through Knapp's Narrows, and we will be home by noon, hopefully.

June 20 - Early start again

June 20 Crack of Dawn is beginning to feel like the right time to get up. That is not a good thing for retired people. Luckily, Jacob is not retired, so he doesn't get up with us. This morning, it was a great day for bathing the anchor. Yes, Mill Creek is a very muddy stop. It was a beautiful place to anchor. It actually wasn't too buggy. Fish were jumping. Herons were flying by. A whiny seagull stopped by. Jacob wanted to feed him. I was surprised when he said that Terry and Peggy had never warned him about the consequences of feeding that first seagull. We all know that is a lure! Feed one. He calls the troops. You get tons of seagull poop. Needless to say, Jacob did not get to feed the seagulls. Coming out of Mill Creek this morning was exciting. Today's dance was the dance of the crab pot avoidance. Yes, the way in and out of Mill Creek is tricky because of all those pesky crab pots. But, we made our escape and we are doing over seven knots. For those interested in boat details: The engines are doing great. Mike did an oil check last night. He did have to add oil. He got the oil in e engine and on his foot. A flurry of stern washing ensued using environmentally safe products! Always pays to travel with an ASPS Education Officer.

Leaving Norfolk

Wednesday, June 19 C.O.D. Again!! We left Norfolk just before 6. It was drizzling a little. The harbor was very busy, so we fed Carol and Mike lots of tea. The good news is that, within an hour, the sky had cleared and the sun was shining. We even had enough wind to put up the sail. It was a good day. We even went over seven knots. The only excitement for the day was ship sightings. Mike saw a tall ship way in the distance. We all saw lots of navy ships heading down the bay. I believe they were leaving Baltimore's Sailabration. For lunch, we had a great fish and shrimp salad. I mixed up dinner leftovers - Peggy's Mahi Mahi, my whitefish, and Carol's shrimp. Add some mayonnaise, celery and carrots and you get a really tasty fish salad! Good use of restaurant leftovers, too! We ended up dropping the hook in Mill Creek in Virginia. We were early enough to set up the blender. Jacob had a mango apricot slushy. We had the adult version-yes, that would be with rum. Not much though- we finally ran out of rum. Time to go back ti the islands. Since it was still sunny, Jacob decided he would go swimming. He put his feet in. Peggy put her feet in. It was COLD! Feet came out. Time passed. Jacob decided to go swimming. He got in this time. He came right back out. Yes, the water is still pretty cold. Carol and I put out feet in for a while as well. It was cold, but it felt good!  For dinner Mike made beef stroganoff from a complete mix by Betty Crocker. It was pretty good for a mix.

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18 - The Die Is Cast

Well, we have decided to make the run for home. We are hoping to be back in Annpolis on Thursday. Carol is busy reading the chart books. Mike is busy washing down the boat. We went to dinner at Eat at Joe's. The food was good, but not as good as some we had further south from here. Seafood just isn't as fresh as it used to be. At present, our plan is to just move along as fast as we can. At present, though, it is interesting to be in Norfolk. On our way in, we heard Navy warships on the radio warning boaters to stay out of the way as the warships were on the move. At this dock, we can look across the harbor to the repair yard for navy ships. The saddest part is that Norfolk has a place just like the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. It's where our marina is. The place is half empty. And that includes the marina. It is very sad because the place is actually very nice. This afternoon, we went to Nauticus, the marine museum that houses the U.S.S. Wisconsin. Mike, Jacob and Peggy did the tour of the U.S.S. Wisconsin. Peggy learned that she does not want to be in the Navy. The bunks are too short. Jacob learned that it got hit at a 155 mm shell. They repaired the boat, and now it is a museum. Carol and I toured the regular museum. We learned that even Moray eels can live long enough to get cataracts. We all went to check out the exhibit of the Chris Craft boats. The museum had done a great job of exhibiting the boats in an open area in the building also used as a port of departure for the cruise ships. This trip has been quite the experience of a lifetime. But, it is time to get home. There are no more bimbos on the boat, and Tom and Linda don't have any to send us! Not only that, but we are no longer playing the Alphabet Game because Tom never sent the collection of q and z words that he promised us in order to make the game more fun.

One Lock, Five Boats and a Bear

It is 8 AM, and we are at the lock. That is a good thing since you have to be here for the 8:30 opening. The temperature has risen to 61 degrees. We are still shocked that we started the morning at 54 degrees in the middle of June. But, as I keep saying, better to be cold with no bugs than sweltering with lots of black flies. It's a good day on the water! One downside of buying a boat in the BVIs, BTW, is that the blankets are a lovely light cotton. However, they are not very efficient in 58 degree weather. Jacob is trying to get others to give him their blankets, but no such luck for him. Peggy's solution is that he should just supplement with a beach towel. In retrospect, I really must say that, for the most part, we have had nice weather. The worst weather was centered around the time that Sam and Howard were with us. But, they had warned us that they brought bad weather with them.  Okay, more excitement in the lock. We are now in position with FIVE boats going northbound. Even the lock tender thinks it is going to be a little tight. Meanwhile, there is a lot of chatter amongst the radios. Seems a bear ran across the lock! Right toward the truck used by the bridge/lock tender. Lucky for the tender, the bear kept right on going. So, the lock tender proceeded to fit us all in- three on port and two or starboard. The boat in front of us was very entertaining. First they were creeping into the lock - even thought the lock tender had said we needed to get a move on in order to make the next drawbridge. Then they had trouble getting next to the lock wall. Then, to Carol's dismay, they killed their engines. Thank goodness that they started them back up. I thought Carol might be thinking about paying them a personal visit. The tender was a fun guy! He told us to be sure to have everything ready because, in his own words, "You are going down!!!" We kept complaining that the phrase sounded too much like a bad police movie, and we didn't want to go down in that sense. But we did - go down, that is. At least in the lock sense. As soon as he could, he shepherded us out of the lock and on our way. He told us that we had just navigated one of the oldest locks in the United States, and he wished us Godspeed and a safe journey. It is now 9:15 AM, and we are part of the boat parade heading for the drawbridge. We are following closely because the lock tender said we had to do 6 knots to make it. At present, we are following at 5.6. Those boats need to speed up! And now we are at the bridge. It claims to be 65 feet. Once again, Mike does the bridge dance. Peggy thinks she heard the antennae scrape a little. Jacob and I could only hear the roar of the cars and trucks going over the bridge. Busy morning here in the Norfolk area! And the excitement just kept coming. The next thing was that we got a radio message saying that the railroad bridge ahead was going to close momentarily for a few minutes. We got there in time to watch it close with four of our boat friends from the lock. Then, we had the opportunity to watch a truck drive over the railroad. Ridge. Then three guys walked across. Then, the bridge went back up. As soon as we cleared it, it went back down.

Monday, June 18

We spent an interesting evening at the Welcome Center on the Dismal Ditch Canal. It was a cool evening - meaning few bugs. That is always a good thing on the Dismal Ditch. We arrived after a cabin cruiser, so there were two of us at the small dock. And then a large cabin cruiser showed up, and the dock was full - after we moved us and the cabin cruiser up a bit. Then a sailboat showed up. They wanted to raft up with us. We assured them that was fine - as long as they realized that we intended to leave no later than 5 AM. Then, another sailboat showed up. They rafted up with the large cabin cruiser. Luckily, that was the end of the parade for the day. The Welcome Center said that the record is 23 boats rafted up there. I would not like to have tried to work our way out of the center of 23 boats. And, yes, we would have been at the center of the 23 boats.  So, it is now 6 AM, and we are on our way. Yes, the sailboat rafted up to us woke up as well, and they are now following us to the first lock of the day. There was no excitement this morning. The engines started right up. There was no wind, so we were not pushed against the dock. The only downside was that there wasn't a gas station to make us egg biscuits. But, we have our own Peggy. She is busy warming up the last of our cinnamon bread. For someone who has been awake since 4 AM, she is doing a great job. Oh, wait a minute! Excitement on the canal. Mike had to slow down to avoid ducks swimming. Yes, they were true bird brains. One kept swimming straight ahead in front of us. Now one is flying in front of us. Finally, he has flown off. No ducks will be harmed in this voyage! And it is a beautiful morning. The sun is shining. There is a mist on the water. Peggy, Carol and I are dressed in long pants and jackets here inside the cabin. Jacob would be in long pants, but he doesn't have any! Mike is outside at the wheel in thin shorts and a tee shirt. It does, indeed, take all kinds. It is 8 AM, and we are at the lock. That is a good thing since you have to be hear for the 8:30 opening. The temperature has risen to 61 degrees. We are still shocked that we started the morning at 58 degrees in the middle of June. But, as I keep saying, better to be cold with no bugs than sweltering with lots of black flies. It's a good day on the water! One downside of buying a boat in the BVIs is that the blankets are a lovely light cotton. However, they are not very efficient in 58 degree weather. In retrospect, I really must say that, for the most part, we have had nice weather. The worst weather was centered around the time that Sam and Howard were with us. But, they had warned us that they brought bad weather with them. So, we were duly warned. Okay, more excitement in the lock. We are now in position with FIVE boats going northbound. Even the lock tender thinks it is going to be a little tight.

June 17 - C. O. D. Once Again

Once again, Mike got us up at 5:30 for an early start. I took advantage of the routine to run back to our favorite gas station/grill to buy some breakfast for us. Nothing better than eggs on homemade biscuits. And, for dessert, we had blueberry muffins fresh from the oven. Actually, the truth is that Jacob did not get a blueberry muffin. They only had four. So, not enough for everyone. And, I am getting better at staying up and working! I made two pots of hot water- one for right away and one for the thermos. I also thought ahead to put all the food in the large stew pot with the lid on to keep everything hot longer- an old trick of my mom's. As Mike promised, the Albemarle Sound was calmer today. We had just about one hour of bouncy bouncy, then it smoothed out. And, now the jib is up and we Re moving right Lang. The goal for the day is to first stop in Elizabeth City. Then, we will move up closer to the start of the Dismal Ditch Canal so that we can make the locks on time. Our plan is to try to do the Dismal Ditch Canal all in one day. That is possible - as long as we stay right on schedule. So, we'll see how that goes. At 10:00, we are moving right along. We are doing 7.2 knots with the jib up, and we are just passing the TCOM blimp construction company! It was a good day; they had a cute white blimp sitting outside on the riverside so that we could clearly see it. The interesting thing is that I thought it was a cute LITTLE blimp - until I saw a truck passing under it! The actual construction building is so gigantic that it makes everything around it look very, very small. This position is just five miles from Elizabeth City. That means we might be there in less than an hour. Since the free Mariners Wharf has free wifi, I wanted to get this done so I could post it. Meanwhile, we continue our dance of the crab pots. They are everywhere around here. Unlike the Chesapeake Bay, there do not appear to be any rules about keeping channels clear for boating. And, the watermen do not appear to put them down in any patterns, unlike home where once you see a pot you can then expect to see the line of them stretching in a pretty organized row. Not here, that is for sure. It is now 4:47, and we are at the Dismal Swamp Visitors Center. No, we did not stop in Elizabeth City. We decided to skip that stop because we really did not need to go to town for anything. We have enough foodstuffs to make it through. And, I already got free books at the library in Belhaven. So, I really did not need to go to that bookstore, although there is probably some book I need desperately...... Anyway,the downside is that there is not free wifi. So, this blog posting will go up much later. So, we did head down the Dismal Swamp. It is an interesting place. It is just about wide enough for one boat, so when you see another boat heading your way, you really have to think about when and where you will meet and pass them. Mike and Carol did a splendid job. Even better, traffic was light today.  Our first big adventure was the saga of the dog. For those of you who do not know, the Dismal Ditch is a long stretch of very brown water. It is so dark and brown that it looks like thin oil or dark coffee. You really cannot see much, including brown logs in the water. We only missed one log. I was going to say that we only ran into one log, but that did not really sound like the perfect thing. Next, we rounded a corner, and I heard Carol yell, "Slow down. Back up. Don't hit the dog." I thought she was joking. No. Someone was tossing a ball into the water so that Jim's black lab could retrieve it. Good day for dog swimming, unless a large catamaran is coming around the corner. Yes, no dogs were harmed on this trip. We missed the lab. He made it back to the dock with his ball. Good dog. Bad owner. Our next adventure was our first lock. Yes, LUX for us was a newbie with locks. The gentleman at the lock was very helpful, and his little doggy was cute. It was an interesting experience for all of us. The wash from the water rushing in caused LUX to start trying to back away from the side of the lock. Peggy and Carol were charged with holding the ropes to keep us in place. Carol thought that Mike was doing something at the helm, but no. It was just the rushing water. We made it through the first lock, and then we proceeded slowly toward the bridge. BTW, we really did have to go slowly. No sense rushing. The gentleman who worked the lock had to get in his truck, drive to the bridge, and then open the bridge for us. And, yes, the doggy went for the ride. Good dog. Good owner. Tomorrow, we will see if we can make it to Norfolk. Long day, but getting closer to home makes it seem shorter each day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Night- June 16

Well, we are back from Captain Charlie's restaurant over in the gas station. Carol and Mike stuck with the NC local fried shrimp dish. Peggy and I ventured into new territory. We ordered the NC BBQ. Hmmm... We did not know that meant a mound of pork soaked in white vinegar. Very astringent, to say the least. But, the pork was good anyway. So, we brought back a good portion of it. Peggy and I plan to make sloppy joes for lunch tomorrow with the leftovers. Tomorrow, the plans are to move on to Elizabeth City. So far, the weather looks good for our plans. We'll see what it looks like in the morning.

June 16 - Afternoon at Alligator River Marina

Well, it was a pretty quiet day here at the marina. I did a load of laundry and cleaned out my closet. Mike worked on boat projects. He fixed heads (that would be toilets for the non-boat people), got the holding tanks pumped out (with lots of help from Jacob), got fuel, helped a cabin cruiser get to the fuel dock (the winds here are 25 knots or more with gusts blowing right at the dock), and general maintenance stuff. Carol got the trampoline repaired(something she has wanted to do since the beginning of the trip). Peggy got the decals put on the sliding plexiglass doors. Of course, we had to take a break at 2 and get ice cream. I do so love a full service gas station. Mike found out that this is one of the few stops on the southern route to the Outer Banks. Boy, was this a hopping place this afternoon! There was a steady stream of cars all morning and into the late afternoon. It has finally slowed down somewhat. It is a definite, though, that leaving tomorrow morning would best be done very early! For those of you looking for real boat details, here is today's news: The starboard tank for that head is finally breaking up. Mike thinks he had an okay pump out. Or, at least this one is better than it has been. Poor Mike. I think it must be rough to grill marina people on how well their sewage pump out system works. I personally don't think they would ever say that theirs was just average, or even below par. However Mike has asked the questions long enough on this trip to actually understand marina doublespeak. Yay, Mike! The best thing today is that it remains cool. It will be great sleeping weather again tonight. Peggy and I went out and took some great shots of LUX with the lighthouse right behind her. Tonight, we have been unable to resist the lure of the gas station. We are going back to Captain Charlie's- the restaurant room at the back of the gas station. But we must rush. If you are not there by 6:30, they don't serve you!

June 16 - It's Morning on the Alligator River

Ah, the sun is shining. The marina delivers a free paper to your boat (which Mike is busy reading- no fights over the first paper in a long time because we are the only two people up at this point). Mike was fairly excited when he got up this morning- hope does spring eternal in the human heart. The wind was down. The catamaran behind us was already gone. Maybe we would be on the water too..... Nope, by the time he had walked over to the restrooms and back, the wind was already picking up. And now, thirty minutes later, I can see the whitecaps out on the Alligator River. So, we will do as NOAA indicated. We will wait until tomorrow, when the weather forecast is more favorable. Tomorrow, winds should be around five knots and waves less than one foot. If you want today's forecast, just triple that! Yes, sitting here looks just fine. Of course, there are some downsides to being at the marina/gas station/grill/restaurant/truck stop/gift shop/convenience store. The biggest problem is always that it is hard to be great at everything when you have so much going on. So, here it is - my complaint about this place is that the coffee is not great. No fancy coffee machine like Royal Farms. No choices of creamer like 7-11. No massive coffee bar and doughnut selection like WAWA. Okay - I admit that if that is the worst I can come up with, this is a nice place to be to wait out the weather. Today we'll work on maintenance and clean up. A slow restful day is just what this crew needs. And now everyone is up. I read them the first part of this blog. Jacob immediately agreed that he needed rest. The rest of the crew found that hilarious. After all, yesterday Jacob did not get up until almost noon. He ate lunch. He went back to bed. He got up when Peggy made him get up to help with docking. Ahhh, the life of a teenager!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Look! It is the Shell Station where we had dinner. And it was good, too! Peggy had the fried seafood platter which had trout, soft shell crab, and shrimp. She also had the fried okra, which was good. We know this because she is great at sharing. Carol and I had fried shrimp. Yes, in the land of shrimp, we cannot resist eating them. Mike and Jacob had the hamburger patty platter. They said it was good as well. Jacob rounded off his dinner with his second ice cream bar of the afternoon. The ice cream case seems to call out to him. Dinner was particularly interesting because the small dining room had three other tables of boat people. We had lively discussions about traveling today. It is quite surprising here tonight because there are four cats in a row in this marina. Behind us is a Lagoon. In front of us is a Leopard 40. Yes, a newer model of LUX. The new owners picked their boat up just five days ago. Yes, Mike has been over there already taking pictures of dingy motor, generator, and air conditioners. And, that owner has been over to visit LUX. Everyone, BTW, loves our screen doors. Carol's work with the As Seen on TV patio screens is brilliant. I ink we have started a trend. Yay, us!

Passing under the not so tall bridge

June 15 - 8:45 AM Well, the first part of the difficult day has been accomplished. We made it under the one bridge on the ICW that everyone says is not quite the right height. It was a major factor in our decision to stay the extra day in Belhaven. Once again, Mike made the boat dance under the bridge. We did scrape the antennae this time. As you may know, bridges seem to always hang the navigation light right at the highest point. That means we need to dance the mast around that light while not banging the boat on the side of the bridge! It can be quite a harrowing experience because the captain must watch ALL of the boat including the mast. We all try to help, so it must be exciting for Mike to hear watch the bow, watch the stern, watch the mast, look out on the port side, boat approaching from behind.... All while he is trying to dance that mast around the navigation light. I, for one, am becoming quite tired of bridges. We do owe thanks to Silver Bay, the boat that left Belhaven just before we did. They radioed us with a report on the water level at the bridge to let us know that the height was looking good for us. And now, we are headed down the Alligator River-Pongo River Canal toward the Alligator River Marina. We radioed Silver Bay to let them know we made it through, and we hope to see them at the marina this afternoon.

June 15 at 3:15

Well, we made it to the Alligator River Marina. I say we made it because it was a rocky end to today's journey. The morning's ride through the canal was lovely. And then we hit the open area. It was back to the old washing machine for us. Mike and Carol did a great job getting us through the waves. And they were certainly rollers today. I went straight to bed! And, I did not get up again until we hit the dock. Yes, literally, we kissed the dock coming in. The wind was blowing really hard, blowing us straight into the dock. So, we are here in the Alligator River Marina, and here we will probably stay for the next day or two. The book says they have a restaurant. That would be a grill inside the Shell station. But the grill has an interesting menu with steamed shrimp, fried soft shell crab, and (according to the billboard outside) the best hamburgers around. I guess we will find out, because I am begging to eat there!

June 15 in the Morning

Well, the die is cast. We will be pulling out of Belhaven by 7 we hope. The wind is not blowing. The skies are mostly sunny with high, cirrus clouds. And, the plans are to go down the Pongo River-Alligator river Canal. The good news is that the scenery is supposed to be especially spectacular on that route. The bad news is that Internet and phone reception will be, at best, spotty. On another note, we had company last night. Yesterday morning at breakfast, we recognized one of our own kind at the diner - boat people. We chatted for a minute or so. Then, last night, Sherry and Ronnie Adkins showed up at our boat! They are in a Gemini at another marina. They totally redid the Gemini they have. Mike and Ronnie totally bonded over the process of rebuilding boats. Hopefully, we'll meet up with them again. But not this trip. They are headed south. And we are back on the water heading north.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14 in the late afternoon

We have had a fairly nice afternoon. It is pretty windy still, but the sun is shining. Carol took the opportunity to rehem the screen to the main salon. Peggy, Jacob and I played some Yahtzee. Peggy ended the rounds with a win. This is a monumental moment because she has been steadily losing over the past few days. So, we have ended the day with Peggy happy. Yay, Peggy! Mike is busy fixing fajitas for dinner. It is Mexican food night here on the boat. As for our plans for tomorrow? Well, they are still as unsettled as the weather. Mike wants to try for the fixed bridge on our next part of the journey.We all agree, though, that the weather is the big factor. Around here, it is the wind that pushes the water, not the tide. So, if the wind stays strong, well... We will be another day here in Belhaven. That, of course, is not a bad thing because one of the local restaurants has a buffet on the weekend. And, since around the water they are all seafood restaurants... Well, you can see that it won't be a hardship.

June 14 - Midday

Here we sit in Belhaven waiting out the weather. It is still just cloudy and very windy. The best news to date is that they have reduced the winds for tomorrow. So, today we made a foray to the local Food Lion. Better than usual- they actually had some local foods. The most interesting was the cornbread salad. I have never seen or heard of this stuff. And, no, I did not try any either. A girl must have her standards when it comes to things made into salads. Mine might be low, but I still have them! And cornbread steps over that line. So, I left it at the deli. We actually didn't need anything. We just used this trip to buy things we needed and a few things that we wanted. That would explain how that six pack of beer and that quart of Ben and Jerry's ended up in our cart. And, of course, what boat is complete without mango peach applesauce! I also bought another pound of carrots. Jacob is busy right now cleaning them and slicing them up so that we can have instant carrot snacks. Yay, Jacob! Peggy's taking a nap. Carol is reading. Mike is doing email. And the sun just came out. A lovely day on the water - even if we are stuck in a marina!

June 13 Evening & June 14 Morning

So, we are safely tied up at Belhaven Waterway Marina. Last night, we met our neighbors in Second Chance, a Lagoon catamaran. Mindy and John are full time cruisers on their way up the northeast coast. They have two dogs that Peggy had the opportunity to meet- Angel and Phoebe. Today, we walked to Gingerman Bakery for breakfast. It was very tasty. And the building was a real treat. The current owner of the building and the pharmacy and the gift shop and the florist and the cellular phone store is the third generation of O'Neals to run it. They rent out the restaurant/bakery. Mike went to the men's room. I only mention this because the sink for hand washing was in the hallway in front of the bathroom! Unusual for us, but a great use of space to make sure they got the bathroom in! After breakfast, Carol, Peggy, and I went to the library here in town. It is a beautiful building, and a great library. They were giving away paperbacks! And they were having a sale on hardbacks and large paperbacks- a whole $1 for hardbacks and $0.50 for the large paperbacks! We came back with bags of books, of course. This afternoon, we hope to make a trip to the Food Lion outside of town. The marina owner is going to arrange transportation for us. Good deal!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stuck in Belhaven

Well, another great day on the water. Carol did a great job with waypoints. Once she turned them over to Mike, she took a long nap (still under the sway of Bendryl). We only had one bridge. Otto Pilot got to drive a lot today. We didn't see many other boats. Mike only killed four crickets (again, how did they get on the boat?). We did so well that we even made it to Belhaven early. So, here we are at the Belhaven Marina. We had some major clean up from night of the living dead. We had to wash blood and mosquito carcasses off almost every surface of the boat - inside and out. We also had to wash all the sheets. Blood and carcasses were all over them as well. And this afternoon we learned that we will be here for several more days. The weather is going against us, so we have decided to wait it out a day or two here to see what Happens. Unfortunately, it is not the greatest place to be stuck. Between the recession and some really bad flooding, not much is left in downtown. Just a drugstore, an Ace hardware, and four restaurants - two of which are open all the way until 8 PM on a Wednesday night. We had really good food at Fish Hooks. It included pineapple casserole. That was a new one on us. But, it turned out to be a good dish. So now we are getting ready for bed. Everyone is tired, so it is another early night for us. Peggy has already told Mike that he is not to turn on the gas in the morning to make tea too early. Everyone gets to sleep in. I like that plan.

Tuesday June 12- Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead Well, ten hours on the ICW is a long day for our group. As I keep pointing out, we aren't as young as we used to be. So, after our nice dinner and one round of Yachtzee,we all headed off to bed. Since I was not really tired enough to be in bed at 8:30, I used a half hour to listen to the end of my book on tape. You cannot imagine my surprise when I took off the earphones to hear slap...slap...thwack....thwack....ow...slap.... Using my excellent first aid training, I immediately said, "Is everyone okay?" all I got back was, "MOSQUITOS!" And so the night of the living dead began. The bloodsuckers were everywhere. There were so many that you could literally kill two or three with one swat of the new fly swatters (good thing we bought two of them). And, every time you killed one, you saw five more. So, for the next hour, we spent our time doing nothing but killing mosquitos. Well, most of us did. Mike was so tired that he did not move for the beginning of our quest to kill all the bloodsuckers. Jacob killed enough in his cabin so that he thought he would be safe if he just went in and closed the door. No one mentioned that he would eventually have to go to the bathroom - which would just let them in. Of course, I am sure he was hoping we would kill them all for him. And, certainly we tried. Of course, our efforts did result in some casualties. Peggy was itching all over. I had to find the Benedryl spray for her. And then there is poor Carol. She is very allergic to mosquito bites - they end up giving her really gigantic welts. And, early in the battle, she already had ten welts that she could see. I never told her about the three I could see high up on the back of her arm. So we fought on against the hordes. Sometimes it felt as though they were reproducing faster than we could swat them. We were never able to figure out for sure where they all came from. After all, we had closed all the hatches earlier on because it had started to rain. When we had finally killed enough to feel as though we might be able to sleep, we fell back into our beds. Carol had the best promise of sleep- I made sure she TOOK Benedryl. And, of course, there is the fact that she sealed herself into her bunk with duct tape and mosquito netting(yes, another weird item from our luggage). Then, before she took the Benedryl, she killed all the Mosquitos she could find in her bunk area. I hope she got them all. So, it is morning again. Mike hoped for an early start with his crew. But, even he has commented on the fact that we seem to be trapped. There are Mosquitos between the screen and the door. Yes, the evil bloodsuckers got through our defenses. I am hoping that they will disappear as it gets light. After all, they did not appear until it got really dark. Hope springs eternal. Finally, the biggest victim of the bloodbath was LUX. I will have to spend a lot of time today washing down walls to get rid of the blood smears and the dead bodies. And now we are trying to prepare to leave mosquito heaven- especially since it is now trying to turn into noseeum heaven. Carol is trying to do waypoint entries for the day. Unfortunately, she is either drunk or still suffering after effects from a night on Benedryl. Don't laugh, dear readers. You don't know what it's like. First she was singing weird songs that we thought were drinking songs. She claims they were from the Mikado, but I don't know..... Then I asked her for my IPad to add her to this blog. She handed me a duster. Then she started laughing and laughing. She's not quite to hysteria, but I can tell you that it is a short trip there for most of us at this point. Except, of course, Mike. He can't figure out what the fuss is all about. For example, we all said we would have to wash sheets today to get the bug carcasses and blood off them. He said, "Why do that? Maybe the bug remains will scare off other bugs." We sent him outside to do all the get the boat ready stuff. And, Peggy has moved on from Queen of the Flies to Queen of the Flying Pestilence. She is killing Mosquitos and gnats while she sings, "And another one bites the dust." Jacob has gone back to bed. Carol is busy trying to simultaneously brush her teeth and kill more Mosquitos in the bathroom. We're also trying to kill little gnats, but they are faster than we are. Oh, an announcement from Peggy. "Okay. I am now going into the head with the fly swatter." We are now approaching our second hour underway. Carol has gone back to bed. Peggy and I are holed up on the settee. Mike is alone at the helm. Oh, wait. His best friend, Otto Helm, is out there with him. Good thing Otto is in charge. Mike is busy swatting insects. Yes, insects. He killed two crickets this morning. Now, how did they get to the boat? Probably the gigantic killer Mosquitos dragged them here, huh?

EARLY Tuesday Evening

Tuesday Evening, June 12 Our midday stop was at the Morehead City Yacht Basin. They had diesel, water, pump out, ice, and free wifi. I sent off the last two blogs, and my crew mates worked on all the other projects. I went up to the office to get ice. At the office, the manager really wanted to sell me a tee shirt. He assured me that I would never get another one like the ones offered there. I pointed out that if I went back to a sailboat with tee shirts imprinted with a marlin and a powerboat, I would not be allowed back on the boat. He saw my point, and he stopped trying to get me to buy the tee shirt.  We are anchored out for the evening. The afternoon was exciting. We had a nice windy ride with a little rain. We were out on one of the sounds, so there was enough fetch to get some nice waves. We went 74 mile today - plus another six to eight miles to our anchorage on the South River. While anchoring, we tried to capture a few crab pots. Luckily, our efforts were unsuccessful. The props on LUX remain crab pot free. For dinner, we had steamed shrimp, cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad. Another end to another great day on the water. Thankfully, at that point I did not know what the night would bring.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12- Motoring Along

Tuesday, June 12 Last night, we anchored in a cove Mile Hammock Bay. It is part of Camp Lejeune, however they allow cruisers to anchor here. Of course, you have to be aware that it is a military base. That means you get extra traffic of an unusual nature. As you might have read in yesterday's blog, we were passed by numerous runabouts painted in camouflage colors and filled with soldiers carrying guns. Last evening, we were entertained by the osprey- that would be the military version. It was obviously in training mode. It would fly over the cove, practice setting down just beyond the trees, and then it would take off and fly around again. This went on for quite a while. This morning, two military watercraft came on trailers. They were met by soldiers who hoped aboard, and the watercraft took off through the cove. But the anchorage was a nice one. This morning, we woke up to a cloudy, windy day. The wind did blow all night long. We're moving right along. Peggy and I decided to do a little cleaning. We reorganized the shelf over the port hallway. Now, we have four baskets, each with a set of items that go together. And, Peggy got the rest of the ditch bag together. Things look neat and tidy. That ought to last for at least the rest of today. On another note, I thought I would mention a few of the really good things done while provisioning. We really like the silicon products. The silicon cutting boards have been great. They obviously don't take up a lot of room, and more than one person can help when making dinner. The silicon pot lids continue to perform as advertised. They do literally seal on the pan when cooking. I also purchased Zyliss knives (a paring and a serrated). The reason they are so great is that the came with knife covers. I like that I can reach for them in any conditions and not worry about stabbing myself. I also bought an OXO vegetable peeler. It came with its own cover as well. We also bought our own snack size storage bags. That allowed us to buy essential things like pretzels, cookies, and fig newtons in bulk and apportion them out ourselves into snack size servings. Peggy's idea of hanging a net for snacks is also brilliant. It's perfect for DIY quick and easy snacking. On LUX, the snack net is hanging over the settee in front of one of the windows. One note of warning: Don't get the granola bars that have a layer of icing-like stuff on one side and then hang them in a window in the summertime. Best to stick with plain old oat and honey bars. I also really like the fabric sweater storage rack. It ended up making a great set of shelves in the hanging locker. They are just the right size for the hanging lockers in LUX. Yes, they are actually too long, but the extra shelves just collapse underneath and really do not take up that much space. I am really pleased with that spot of inspiration! Note to Tom and Linda: We found one more package of bimbos. Just when you think you have cleared the boat of all the bimbos, more hop on board.

June 11 afternoon

So, it is 12:30 on the ICW. With only a half day gone by, we're already having a ton of fun. We left the marina early. And it was mostly cloudy. We went under the Swains Cut Highway Bridge with our regular dance. It was early enough that we only had to ask a jet skier to slow down. We were a little early to the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge, so we had to kill time in the waterway. I wanted to go to the dock bar, but Peggy said we didn't have enough time. It was 10:30, and the bridge opened at 11. Now that we are one and a half hours away, Peggy says, "Oh. I could have ordered and had them bring something over. I didn't think of that." Like I believe that one. Then we had the next bridge, which opened every half hour. Mike decided that we could make it, so he 'put the pedal to the metal.' Yes, he made it with seconds to spare. It helped that there were two sailboats going south who had to pass first. For once, it was nice to have some traffic! And the traffic just got more interesting as we went along. We were passed by boats painted in camouflage colors with soldiers on board. And, they were all carrying guns. The first group of boats went by at a moderate speed. The second group flew by, creating quite the wake. Now, we are moving along hoping to outrace the clouds. It has gone to cloudy, and it is very gray. The forecast is calling for showers and possible thunderstorms. I am hoping we can skip the thunder and lightning. Along the way, we have passed some amazing houses. The are. It enough to be boutique hotels! Even more interesting has been the statues. One house had a mermaid that had to be over ten feet tall. Then we saw a full size giraffe. Next, there was the giant swan. So now we are not only in the land of big houses, but we are in the country of gigantic sculptures!

Monday, June 11, 2012

C.O.D. Once Again

Well, it is COD again- yes, crack of dawn. It is 6:31, and we are preparing to leave Southport. BTW, the interesting thing about Southport is that they are preparing to film a movie here. They are building a movie set house right on the old harbor. It is a Nicholas Sparks book - Safe Harbor. We thought they were restoring an old house, but no, they were building a shell! Mike was most fascinated by the trash bin. It was full of lovely pieces of lumber. He truly coveted some of the 2x4s. Seems he has a little boat project. But, he did not have a saw to make them the right size. So, he had to leave all that lovely wood behind. It was a sad thing to see the look on his face. And, no souvenirs at this stop. As everyone kept telling us - it was Sunday in Southport. Nothing was open but the Walmart and a couple of restaurants.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fishy Fishy

Yes, we had a great meal in Southport at the Fishy Fishy Cafe! Both Carol and I ordered the fried shrimp. For $16.95' you got two dozen fried shrimp-tails already removed! They were so good! Mike had the fried shrimp and scallops. They were good, too. I know this because he gave me a scallop. Peggy had salmon. I don't think it was local. But, it was really good, or so she said. Jacob had the filet, and he said it was good. Afterwards, there was a force drawing us in the opposite direction of our boat. It was Flavas, and yes, it was an ice cream place. And, yes, we had to have ice cream. We also met up with a couple we had met in St. Augustine. We shared horror stories about the thunderstorm when we both left St. Augustine. Our storm story was, of course, much better because we were on the ocean and they were on the ICW. We all plan to leave early tomorrow to get a good start on the next leg. It's a long one, and it might not include a marina tomorrow. And now, for the patient people, another boat update. The boat ran fine without the new fuel pump. Mike thinks maybe he and Terry finally got the tank clear. The marina had a super sucker sewage pump, so Mike finally got all the tanks clean. He says they sound like the Tin Man when he raps on them. Maybe this is a happy ending to a ......problem. Mike repaired the water hose - it had developed a leak. He checked over the engine. He expoxyed the registration letters to the hull of the boat so that we are now within required standards.All in all, a productive day.

Sunday in Southport

We all got up pretty early today so that we could get to Southport by the early afternoon. It is at mile 309. I am told that means we have 300 miles to go on the ICW. The big entertainment of the moment is the mega yacht pulling out. You just cannot get good help these days. That was evident when voices started yelling, "Forward, Chris!" Yes, they almost backed into the fuel dock! It was 112 feet long. And it had a lovely dingy. We, of course, would refer to it as a runabout. It had two 200 horsepower engines. And the dingy had a very nice hardtop Bimini. Great entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. Note to Terry: Yes, we are going out to dinner tonight. I asked to go because the name of the restaurant is Fishy Fishy! Today was a nice day on the ICW. That, of course, is because we were early enough to not be in competition with the jet skiers and the power boaters. By the time they were beginning to show up, we pulled in. We arrived here at 1 PM. The plan was to use today as the opportunity to get more provisions. Peggy and I took the taxi to Walmart. Yes, it was a Super Walmart so that we could get everything we needed in one place. I did buy more shrimp. But they were frozen. It will take me a long time to get over the taste of truly right off the boat shrimp, but I will force myself to enjoy the frozen fellows. While we were in Georgetown, SC, I bought a cookbook with recipes that don't require refrigeration. It is called The Storm Gourmet:A Guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals Without Electricity. I found some recipes I really wanted to try, so I bought the supplies for that. By the way, the cookbook doesn't heat anything either. I am still having problems adjusting to American grocery stores. I buy too much just because I can. After all, when I have paid $4 a dozen for eggs, how can I resist the opportunity to buy 18 eggs for only $2.59? I am sure I will slow down soon, but for now we are really eating well! So, we are at the dock at a marina. Mike is off buying ice. Peggy is doing laundry. Jacob is playing in the dingy. He was actually working with Mike, but Carol asked Mike to drop everything and get ice. Mike didn't mention that he and Jacob were doing a project. So, Jacob got a break! Carol is busy reading the ICW books to get more of our journey planned. For those who have gone through this entire entry hoping for boat updates, here is the latest. We are moving the dingy from the front of the boat to the davets. I will not get reading lights in my cabin because we blew a fuse. And, there were not any fuses at Walmart that were the right size. And, the new fuel pump started annoying the charging circuit. So, Mike took it off line before we got started for the day. Oh well, the fuel pump saga continues.

Leaving Georgetown on June 9

Saturday, June 9 Well, it was a lovely day in Georgetown. It was calm and sunny. Not any breeze in sight. A perfect motorboat day, so LUX will do her cruiser imitation. Terry took off for the airport, and we took off for the ICW. Terry had to get back into the grind,so we sent him off in a taxi-in style, by the way. It was a black Cadillac. Before we left, Carol and I made one more foray into town. We went to the local seafood market where I bought jumbo shrimp fresh off the boat for $8 a pound. Yes, you read that correctly. I also bought the special of the day- their own crab and shrimp dip. Dinner tonight should be quite the great treat. It was a neat experience in that the market was actually the warehouse where the shrimp boats dock and unload their haul. And did they ever have fresh. The market has a clean sea air smell, which tells you that the stuff inside really is fresh. I had to buy my stuff and get out of there quickly- before I gave in to the temptation to buy more seafood than we could store. So now we enter the exciting part of the day. As my readers may know, parts of the ICW have shoaled in. Mike found one of those spots around 1:30. We scraped along, turned around, and went the other way around that spot. Then we began the excitement of the double bridges. One is the tall one which we have to pass under just right to keep from removing parts of our mast. At this moment, Mike is going at zero knots. At least it feels that way as he tries to gracefully dance his way under the bridge. Magnificent work! He did it again. And now we await the motion of the swing bridge. That requires us to dance back and forth in an area only about 6 to 8 times the length of LUX. Luckily, the bridge opens on demand. Unfortunately, it takes a while to get a swing bridge open. It's 2:46 in the afternoon, and the fun just keeps coming. It is now 6:30. We made it to the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club. That was after we passed under at least a million more fixed bridges. Okay, I exaggerate. Today, we went under nine fixed bridges and by three swing bridges. Let me remind you that all the fixed bridges are supposed to be 65 feet - exactly what we need. So EACH one of those bridges required a long slow dance to make sure we made it through. And, we had to fight our way through an absolute pestilence of jet skis. Every time we turned around, there were more of them buzzing us. Then, we also had the regular Saturday crowd of runabouts. Throw into that some nice cabin cruisers, and you have a churning channel of water. We would have to wait until the bridge area was clear so that Mike could negotiate the passage under the bridge with no wake under the bridge. Note to self: Do not do ICW on a Saturday if you have a choice. Also, keep watch for those people who insist on pulling kids on inflatables. Not many of these people appear to have taken many courses from USPS. Especially the person who lost the child off the inflatable in the middle of the ICW in front of us. Also, there seems to be a reading problem. No wake appears to be really difficult to understand. That was the worst at the fixed bridges. The boats would roar right past us. A mile after the last bridge, we pulled into a dredged basin of the Myrtle Bridge Yacht Club. We are tied up to the last t pier available. Mike is cooking our wonderful shrimp. Peggy and Jacob are about to make a green salad. Jacob is in trouble, by the way. His back is very red. And that would not be from lashings from the captain. Too much sun for our youngest crew member.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Evening in Georgetown

Today has been a great day ashore. We have all been off shopping and sightseeing. And, some boat things got done. Jacob and Mike cleaned the boat on the outside. They washed it down and cleaned the windows. Terry gave the boat new diapers. Oh, you might want to know about the diapers. Peggy said they are the XL Pampers. Terry said the diaper is an oil absorbent pad. The dingy got its registration numbers. LUX got her registration numbers and her home port name put on her backside. She got filled up with fuel. The port engine seems to be running okay. Peggy and Terry made it to the bakery, and bread was purchased. The best story of the day, however, was mine. In the morning, when I went to check out the marina store, the guy in the store asked if he could help me. I said I just wanted to look at what they had. He said, in essence, that they had not much other than books and tee shirts. I said that I liked books, and I would like to look anyway. Later in the morning, we were in a store where the sales ladies were really friendly. We got into a conversation, and I told them about my experiences in the marina store. They were so sweet. They were horrified that anyone in their town would be so rude to visitors. I kept saying that it really wasn't rude; the gentleman just really didn't think there was anything of interest for me in the store. But, they continued to follow me around the store talking, asking questions about our trip, and apologizing for the rude guy. During this time, I asked if they had a can opener in the store. The one on LUX is terrible, so I wanted a new one. They did not have one. But, they ended up GIVING me one from their own employee kitchen! They were so incredibly sweet. If you are ever in Georgetown, SC be sure to shop in Tomlinson's. They not only have great clothes at good prices and a wonderful selection of acrylic dishware, they have really nice sales people. We had lunch at Morsels, a lovely local deli. Mike and Terry had shrimp tacos. Peggy and I had really good Reuben's. Peggy ordered fries, but you don't need to worry about her eating fried foods that are bad for her. Terry and Jacob kept taking her fries to make sure she didn't eat too much. For dinner, we ate at Limping' Janes. It was a really neat restaurant. They use all locally sourced produce- most of it from their own farm. I had some really amazing carrots that were just barely steamed. They were so tasty. Everyone really enjoyed their meal. Afterward, we walked around town. Jacob and I had ice cream at a local ice cream place. Then, back to the boat to get ready for another day.

The Light At The End of The Tunnel

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Or is that a train headlight? After the heat exchanger is reassembled, I head off to West Marine, on foot, with a planned stop in Sailor's Exchange (worth the stop) and another stop in AutoZone for an electric fuel pump. I return with some parts from each location, including 36ft of fuel supply hose, four 3-way valves, and various other parts. Back at LUX, the system takes a few hours to implement. We replace all the fuel supply hoses on the port engine. The hand pump bulb and the main feed lines are connected to a 3-way valve, allowing us to select either supply feed and to also use the hand pump to prime all the lines. The intermediate setting of the valve connects all three lines together, allowing us to pump fuel down the main supply line as well as through the primary filter and into the fuel lines to the engine. The engine runs fine with the new system! We're finally ready to leave St. Augustine. We take a break for lunch at the local Greek/Polish restaurant and walk around the shops for an hour or so. It is a nice break from engine work. We all agree that St. Augustine is a neat town, with a lot of museums and galleries that warrant a future stop with more time to spend.

We depart St. Augustine on June 3, heading up the coast towards Charleston. The port engine exhibits some periods of rough running. We now have the option of choosing a pickup and of pumping fuel with the hand pump. The periods of smooth water coincide with a smoothly running engine. Periods of rough water, particularly when the seas make LUX roll, coincide with rough engine running. Since we've not been able to run the engine much, we have 7/8 of a tank of fuel (45 gal tank). At 3/4 gal to 1 gal per hour of fuel consumption, we will need to run a few hours to get the tank near empty so that we can inspect it. The tank does not have an inspection port and the fuel gauge sensor will require some investigation to determine how to get it out of the tank. So far, we've not determined how to remove it so that we have the whole access port for inspection - a port that's only about 1.5 inches in diameter.

We're north of Charleston, SC on June 7, and the port engine started with its problematic operation. We quickly went to the hand pump bulb and found that it was soft. The fuel level is down to 1/4 tank and the bulb feels like it is sucking air. We have been wondering how long its pickup is and whether it goes as deep as the main fuel pickup. There seems to be a sump in the bottom of the fuel tank under the main fuel pickup. We installed the electric fuel pump and it pumped air. Do we have an air leak or is the tank empty. The fuel gauge reads 1/4 tank, but we've not used LUX enough yet to know if it is accurate.

Muck in the Port Tank
We decide to open the port fuel tank while under way to see how much fuel is in the tank. The gauge reads 1/4 tank. How much fuel do we need to pump out so that we can see the bottom of the tank? Mike is able to get the fuel gauge sensor removed from the tank and we're able to look inside. A dip stick shows about 1/4-inch of fuel. There is a thin layer of bio muck in the bottom of the tank.  A baffle prevents us from viewing the fuel pickup area. While there is a sump in the bottom of the tank, there is no drain in it and it does not coincide with the location of the pickups, either the main pickup or the priming bulb pickup. So it seems that our problem is likely due to bio-muck. We had recently purchased bio-cide to treat the diesel and we add some to the tank to kill whatever is living in the the small amount of fuel that remains.

The Starboard Tank Is Much Cleaner!

On our first leg, we had run the port tank down to 1/4 tank, which is where it is currently reading on an empty tank! So perhaps part of the problem was picking up bio-muck from the bottom of the tank, plus stirring up the muck when the tank ran down to a really low level.

We calibrate the sensor so that the fuel gauge reads full and empty at the two extremes of motion, also checking that the half reading is also correct. It has a float that can be adjusted, so we make the adjustments so that the fuel gauge reads correctly. It will read full when the tanks are about 5 gal from being 100% full. Leaving that much space at the top of the tank is probably a good idea anyway. With the port tank now calibrated, we had to do the same to the starboard tank. We found that it was much cleaner in the bottom.

For other Leopard owners, the fuel tank breather hose on both tanks has sagged and tends to collect fuel in the dip. When adding fuel to the tank, the fuel in the breather tube is pushed out and winds up in the water if we're not careful. Supporting the hose so that a dip doesn't exist will take care of the problem.

To Be Continued...

Time for a Beer

The over temp alarm had not sounded, so we think we're safe. Checking the hoses is ok. The raw water filter is empty. Grrr. Another problem to troubleshoot. Off comes the raw water impeller cover. The impeller only has half of one blade attached. Several blades are wedged in the impeller housing and exit port. Sigh. The raw water system will need to be disassembled to find all the blades so that they don't block the cooling water flow. We start the disassembly and find a couple of blades in the hose that feeds the heat exchanger and can feel one of the blades in the heat exchanger end cap. The antifreeze is still hot, the engine is hot, so it is time to take a break and let everything cool. It's dinner time, so we break for the night, get cleaned up, and go to 1A1 restaurant for dinner. It is a micro-brewery and a beer is definitely on our list of refreshments.

June 2 starts with the continued disassembly of the heat exchanger, starting with draining the antifreeze into a container. Fortunately, we've been keeping the gallon water jugs and are able to recycle them for diesel and antifreeze catch basins. Cutting them up allows us to make funnels that fit into weird places, such as under the end of the heat exchanger, where the antifreeze comes out. The engine parts diagram shows a potential drain on the side of the engine, but ours doesn't have one.

Make sure all the impeller parts have been found
With the heat exchanger end cap off, we find the remaining impeller fins, checking them on the hub to make sure we've found them all. The heat exchanger core looks ok; no rubber parts wedged in any of the tubes. To make sure, we take a piece of flexible wire and run the length of each tube in the core, which is tedious, but goes reasonably quickly. Everything checks out ok and the heat exchanger is soon reassembled. We had two spare impellers on board as part of our engine spares kit. The impeller is installed and antifreeze poured back into the engine. Success! The engine now runs and pumps water. We think we're getting to the point where there aren't many more things to disassemble and repair on this engine.

By the way, the starboard engine continues to run fine. It is on a separate fuel tank and we keep reminding ourselves that we won't touch it until we have a reliable port engine.

Our new fuel system plumbing design
Now that we've demonstrated that the bulb hand pump pickup runs fine, it is time to devise a revision to the fuel system. Georgiana talks with Anthony, her brother, an ex-USCG Chief Engineer. He says that the plastic core of fuel lines tends to deteriorate over time and may collapse under pumping vacuum, causing fuel starvation. He also told of various sources of paper and towels in the fuel system. We'll let him comment on his experiences. So we decide to create a valve system that allows us to select either of the two pickups using a 3-way valve. We also consider an electric fuel pump to augment the mechanical pump. We've thought about more valves to allow connecting the port engine to the starboard fuel tank or to pump fuel from one tank into the other (going through a filter so that any contamination doesn't migrate). But we've not gone that far yet. If we do that, we'll probably also configure a fuel polishing system using the small electric fuel pump.

We've run out of time today to do any more. We had planned to eat on board tonight, but after all the engine work, bending upside down over the engine and contorting myself into the compartment, I declared that I wanted to go ashore for dinner and a beer. So we walked to Santa Maria restaurant, adjacent to the marina.

To Be Continued...

Starters, Impellers, and Fuel Pumps, Oh My!

We arrive in St. Augustine on May 30, staying at the very nice St. Augustine Municipal Marina. A very powerful current runs through the river there, so be careful if you're docking during the high current times. We took the afternoon to clean up and determine what we needed to do to check in to the US customs.

On May 31, we go to the Jacksonville Customs and Border Patrol office to check in and then off to the airport to send two crew home, do provisioning, and then back to the airport to pick up one new crewmember. Since we're convinced that it is the pump, which is on its way, there was no engine work planned. I went to the ship's store as everyone else was storing provisions and found that the pump had arrived! Overnight service that actually delivered! Everyone on LUX was happy to see the pump and the end of our engine problems. We had collected a list of boat bling, er, supplies, that we wanted, so we took advantage of our rental car to make a trip to West Marine. Upon return to LUX, we couldn't find a parking place anywhere around the marina, so we looked up an alternate restaurant, The Reef, which is a nice restaurant on one of the barrier islands. By the time we had dinner and returned, there were parking spaces available.

Experiment 4: First thing in the morning of June 1, Mike installed the pump. We anxiously awaited the first test. To our great disappointment, it ran even worse than before! The pump was not the problem!!! I was continuing to work on some electronics while Mike was working on the engine, because only one of us can really be working on the engine at a time. On one of Mike's experiments with the new pump, the engine would not start. What the hell?! All we heard was the solenoid clicking. The starter motor wouldn't turn over. Harumph!

We're spending a lot of time in this position!
We grabbed an alligator clip lead and tried hot-wiring the starter, with no success. [I always take clip leads on boat trips; they are invaluable for any electrical work on board. Just get the really good ones that are made of 16ga wire or better with good alligator clips on each end.] The port engine is the one that previously had heat exchanger problems, which seeped salt water down the side of the engine. Out comes the socket set and the starter is quickly removed. Using the clip leads, we verify that the solenoid is good and that the starter motor runs. The various rust spots are cleaned up, the electrical connections are cleaned, and everything is reassembled. The engine now starts again. One problem after another. What next?

Mike is running out of things to try and is starting to repeat tests. Actually, we repeated a number of tests because while under way, we didn't have anything better to do and it made us feel better to do something rather than just sit there and stare at the engine. Repeating those same tests again is getting silly, we aren't getting any different results or any additional data to help diagnose what's happening. To paraphrase Einstein: Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We are certainly bordering on insanity with this problem.

So I decide to take a break from electronics and do a few experiments, thinking that perhaps another approach will yield some different data. One of the things that we've been doing is working the manual priming pump lever that's on the side of the fuel pump. It is supposed to be used to prime the fuel path from the filter to the high pressure pump. It doesn't seem to be working very well, because we're not getting a good flow of fuel to the secondary (2 micron) filter. We demonstrate to ourselves that the pump does indeed have good pumping action by running the starter to watch the fuel get pumped out at the secondary filter. The Jabsco hand pump also verifies that we can pull fuel through the system.

Experiment 5: We connect the output of the bulb hand pump to the filter input and make sure that we can pump fuel through to the secondary filter. We tighten the fuel connection and try it. It runs like it should!!?

So we let it run, to verify that it is reliable. There's a weird whine, which neither Mike nor I can identify. It isn't obvious when our heads are in the engine compartment, but it is clear when standing at least 10 ft away from the engine compartment, a place where we've rarely been when it is running. We let the engine run, just to make sure that the problem is solved. I check dock lines for when the tide changes. On my way back aboard with a port-side tie, I notice that there is no cooling water coming out of the exhaust! Quick, stop the engine!

To Be Continued...

Murphy Laughs At Us

A subtitle to this post is "The Jabsco Little Pal Pump."

On May 26, we moved from Rock Sound Harbor to Spanish Wells, going via Current Cut, which is an interesting path, if you don't mind following a path that looks like it is going to put you on the coral or on the beach, but eventually takes you into the deep water of the cut. The engines ran perfectly. Problem solved! (NOT!)

May 27, we left Spanish Wells and headed to Marsh Harbor. At 1311, our log entry says: "Fuel pump failing again." Mike found more oil in the bottom of the pump but after the repair the engine didn't run any better. In fact, it was worse than before. We also resorted to another filter change, just to make sure that the filter that we had installed a few days ago had not become clogged.

Mike disassembles and cleans the Racor filter
There are no good solutions for us in Marsh Harbor either. The winds are supposed to be from the south west, so we head out to St. Augustine on May 28. The crossing goes well, but is uncomfortable due to two wave patterns, one from the SE from the old trades and a new one from the SW, generated by the new winds. The mix of waves makes it a sloppy ride, bouncing LUX around quite a bit. Unfortunately, we can't change course very much to lessen the impact of the waves on the boat motion. On our way, we do more diagnosis and troubleshooting. The Racor filter is removed, disassembled, and cleaned. There is some evidence of bio-growth in the bottom of the filter. We also try priming the system using the manual priming lever on the side of the pump. It doesn't work very well and we never get real good flow of fuel going from the small priming pump.

Experiment 3: Fortunately, we brought one of the Jabsco "Little Pal Pump" oil pumps with us, thinking that it might be good for a variety of tasks if we have to pump fluids. It turned out to be a great tool. It has a short length of clear 1/4-inch ID tubing on it that has an OD of 3/8-inch, which is just right to fit inside the 3/8 ID fuel hose. A boat engine catheter! The clear hose allows us to see the fluid as we pump, checking for clarity and bubbles. We were able to use it to make sure that we could pull fuel from the tank, pumping it into a gallon jug.

The Leopard 40 has a unique feature that I've not seen elsewhere - a separate fuel supply line that goes to a squeeze priming bulb pump like you would see on the fuel line to an outboard engine in a small boat. We used this pump to make sure that the Racor filter was full after changing a filter. We had found the filter housing with air in it a couple of times. After checking all the gaskets and gasket seats, making sure that there was no air intrusion into the filter housing, the running problem still remained. Using the Jabsco and bulb pumps convinced us that there was no problem with the fuel pickup and therefore, it must be a problem with the pump. So we ordered a replacement pump while still offshore, but within cell phone range. We were able to get the order placed before the last shipment out on May 30, so we would hopefully receive it on May 31.

To Be Continued...

We're on Break at Number Five

Well, the latest decision is to spend a day at Number Five. Poor Carol. When she asked where we were going to dock, the answer was Number Five. Yes, the Harborwalk Marina is Number Five on the map in the guide. It seems that going eighty miles in one day makes everyone a little itchy. So, Number Five is actually a nice marina. Our friend, Bob, would appreciate the moment. Seems the local newspaper found the need to diversify, so it owns this marina. The newspaper office also has a FedEx spot. And their offices are here on the water right next to the marina offices. So, here we are in Georgetown. Mike is cooking pancakes. Peggy and Carol were outside talking to ducks. Sorry, but the provisioner doesn't have any spare bread for ducks. So, the ducks soon lost interest, and our crew has come back in for tea and coffee. It's a beautiful morning- a great day ahead. For breakfast, Mike made pancakes from a mix we bout at Cracker Barrel- an apple cinnamon mix. We ate breakfast out on the veranda (this is the south, you know). And two 'neighbors' wished us a good day as they went by in their boats.

Kibitzing, The $360 Fuel Pump, and The 8mm Wrench

We make it into Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas without incident, using both engines, with the port engine doing what it could. Of course, getting a replacement fuel pump here is unlikely. Mike, Howard, and Sam go looking for a NAPA store while I go off to Customs and Immigration to do our check-in to the Bahamas. They are unsuccessful in their search, so we plan to depart the next day to Emerald Bay, 13 miles up the island chain. There are no maintenance facilities in Emerald Bay, so we just enjoy the marina, which is a part of the Sandals Resort there. I am able to post a request to the Leopard mailing list and get replies before we leave Emerald Bay. One other Leopard cat owner had found drilling shards in his fuel tank. Another suggested a hole in the pump diaphragm, since it is a diaphragm pump.

On May 22, we overhear a conversation between Synchronicity and Perfection about a generator diesel problem. So we join the conversation and describe our symptoms. Some interesting ideas result from the conversation. Perfection had heard of ex-charter boats finding pieces of paper towels or oil absorbent towels in fuel tanks from sloppy work when refueling. Of course, a faulty fuel pump was one of the possibilities, as was an air leak, based on the air found in the filter canister.

Inspecting the fuel pump at this time was out of the question. We had brought tools, but the metric set only went to 9mm and the fuel pump bolts were smaller. So we continue to use the starboard engine and nurse the port engine and ponder the possibilities. In such a scenario, there is always the temptation to start swapping parts between the working engine and the non-working engine in order to troubleshoot the problem. We have enough experience to avoid that temptation. [definition: "Experience" 1. What you get when you don't get what you want.] We also avoided the temptation to attack the bolts with channel locks or other tools. Damaging the bolt heads would only make a workable situation worse.

A 5-7 pound tuna caught on our Cuban Yo-Yo
We sailed to Black Point Harbor (our actual destination was Staniel Cay, but it was starting to get late and we wanted to get anchored before dark). We also caught a small tuna on the Cuban Yo-Yo during this day's trip - fresh sushi and tuna steaks!
Mike studies the engine; why isn't it running smoothly?
May 23, we moved from Black Point Harbor to Staniel Cay, motoring in overcast and rainy skies. Mike tightened the hose clamps and the screws on the top of the fuel pump. These screws hold the diaphragm in place and an air leak on the pump would be a big problem. No success; the port engine still didn't perform as it should. All the hoses feel good and don't seem to have any air leaks. Mike also used a wire to run down the pickup into the tank. It hits the bottom of the tank with a solid sound, suggesting that there's no rag that might clog the pickup. We're starting to spend a lot of time looking at the engine and trying to think of tests that we can do that will clearly identify the problem so we can fix it.

May 24, we moved from Staniel Cay to Rock Sound Harbor, Eleuthras. We anchored a couple of miles from the main settlement and early on May 25, we motored over to the Rock Sound government pier where we tied up for a few hours for a re-provisioning trip. It was raining, but that didn't stop six of us from walking to the store. There is a NAPA store here, and that was the destination for Mike, Sam, Howard, and me. Well, a NAPA store in the islands isn't nearly as well provisioned as it is in the States. A small electric fuel pump was $360. Stateside, it would be less than $80. But, they did have 7mm and 8mm open/box wrenches, which we purchased. Back at LUX, Mike promptly removed the fuel pump (8mm bolts) and found a small amount of engine oil under the diaphragm. His diagnosis was that the seal around the plunger was defective and that the teaspoon of engine oil was keeping the diaphragm from achieving a full stroke. The engine seemed to like it and we thought that the problem was solved.

To Be Continued…

The Saga of the Port Engine

Those of you who are interested in engine problems and diagnosis have been trying to figure out what is going on with our engine, just as we have. I finally have time to write a blog and thought that it would be interesting to recap what we've learned.

Everything was fine with both engines until May 30, 2012, at 0900, where the log entry says "Port engine now having fuel filter replacement surgery." This was on our leg from Turks & Caicos to Georgetown. Georgiana says that Tom and Linda must have poisoned the engine because they had to leave. Maybe they hid the missing Bimbos in the tank.

When LUX was in charter, the fuel tanks probably never held less than 3/4 of a full tank. Even a week of motoring in the BVIs would result in only using about 1/4 tank of fuel and the tanks would be topped off after each charter. But with our long segments, we ran them down to 1/4 of a tank (using 3/4).

On the T&C to Georgetown segment, the port engine started to periodically lose RPM. When run at 2200 RPM, it would slow to 500-1000 RPM for about 5-10 seconds, then speed back up to 2200. It would repeat this cycle every 20-30 seconds. If we set the throttle at 1800 RPM, it would run fine. We had not taken on any fuel at the Turks & Caicos marina, so bad fuel couldn't have been the problem. And we didn't think that we would have run through 3/4 of a tank of fuel without any problems, then start experiencing problems, particularly since the passage wasn't totally smooth and the fuel tank should have been mixed up from the boat motion.

Experiment 1: Replace the primary fuel filter. The engines have two fuel filters, a Racor primary filter and a Volvo spin-on engine filter. The primary filter is typically either 30 or 10 micron while the engine filter is 2 micron. I had included four Racor 10 micron filters and two engine filters in our engine spares. Since the problem looked like fuel starvation, we decided to change the filters, starting with the Racor. The old filter looked fine. We pulled fuel from the bottom of the tank to top off the Racor filter canister and the fuel looked fine. The Racor canister had a lot of air in it, so maybe it was a gasket leak. No such luck. It initially sounded like it was fixed, but a few minutes later, it started the same symptoms.

Experiment 2: Replace the secondary filter. Next, we replaced the secondary filter - the 2 micron filter. Our luck changed for the worse, and the engine would not run even at 1800 RPM. We had to throttle back to about 1500 for it to run smoothly.

At this time, all sorts of speculation starts about the possible cause of the problem and potential solutions. Fuel pump? Fuel? Something blocking the fuel line?

To Be Continued…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peggy is Queen... Of the flies

Peggy is Queen of the Flies. Mike and Terry are Lords of the Slime.  Well, here we are in the ICW just past Red 12 headed toward Georgetown. As you might guess, we are having engine problems. Mike and Terry have totally drained the port tank. However, they could not get a good look inside because the tank had baffles. Mike did find slime below. They did get the fuel gauges calibrated. They have spent the afternoon down in the engines. They installed a new fuel pump in the port engine, but now it doesn't have any fuel. So, we will have to wait until tomorrow, when we can get fuel in Georgetown. Meanwhile, Peggy has become Queen of the Flies. Finally, the bugs Mike promised me I would find in the ICW have arrived. The horseflies are as big as horses. And, there is a continual stream of them. Peggy has spent her afternoon chasing them with the flyswatter. I think she might really be slipping a little. She keeps talking to the flies. And, she is so very proud of her fly killing technique. She swishes them down the screen, and then she squashes them. She keeps yelling, "Swish! Squash!" Carol can't resist playing with the genoa. She unfurls it. She furls it. And, the flies just keep coming. The big news is that it is NOT raining. I know that everyone reading this is surprised. Usually, we don't do engine repair without rain. I actually forgot the big story of the morning. We kissed a bridge. When the ICW says the bridge is only 65 feet, they mean that would be at low tide. When the marker on the side says it is only at 63 feet, they do mean that. So, the antenna scraped. Mike carefully shepherded LUX under the bridge slowly but surely. He did a great job. The other news for the day is that Mike saw two alligators. One was just the head- it was floating along, and it submerged right when Mike yelled, "Look! There' an alligator." This, of course, led to speculation that he just made it up. The second one was actually on land. It, according to Mike, jumped off the bank into the water. Carol is now claiming that she saw them,too. So, we'll have to add alligators to our list of animals seen in our travels. By the way, it is now 7:30, and we have arrived in Georgetown. We had a salad with chicken for dinner. Our plans are to go into town for dessert and drinks! For Jacob, that would be a soda, naturally.

What do you mean it's time to get up!

June 7 on the ICW Day 28 of my confinement with the boat people. Today, the boat people wanted to get up at COD (otherwise known as crack o' dawn) so that we could make time. Which really makes good sense- especially because we are now approaching a bridge whose next opening is 9 o'clock. And it is only 7:27. "Oh,"said Terry. "I didn't think about the bridges." So, Jacob has gone back to bed. Peggy is sleeping on the settee. Carol is reading the guide out loud over and over and over. Even though she has asked the bridge tender what the schedule is, and she knows when the bridge will open. Time and tide wait for no man, but all boats must wait for the bridge tender. By the way, Terry's rationale for the missed bridge timing is that we were all tired yesterday. He also pointed out that I could have checked that. I pointed out that I only do food. He then tried to claim that I also missed the perfect grilling night. So, that is a funny point because we did not anchor until 7. And, we were all in bed by nine. It is hard to cook, eat, and clean up in just two hours. At this point, Terry will want to point out that he has said we can grill while underway. Let's see--- we were rolling along at 4 to 8 knots depending on the location, the weather report still used the term 'unsettled,' and the crew was busy trying to find the perfect place to anchor. Oh, and did I add that I didn't buy grill food because we are on a stretch of long days motoring? So, no, in the provisioner's perspective, it was NOT the perfect day to grill. And, when the anchoring was achieved right at 7, the stovetop lasagna was ready to be served. And, most of the crew were happy not to be waiting for dinner. Jacob was only partly happy- the lasagna had mushrooms and spinach. Obviously, in his eyes, I had ruined a perfectly good dish. Luckily, the rest of the crew was too hungry to complain. They just ate the lasagna. And, they complimented the chef. Tired and hungry people are the best people to feed!And, the stovetop lasagna is a keeper! Second time we have had it, and it is still getting rave reviews.

June 6 in the afternoon

Midafternoon in the ICW Well, we did get out of Beaufort right at noon. It wasn't exactly raining,but that was some mist! You could see the water droplets all around us, but it wasn't really raining. It was nice and gray. The clouds were hanging. Peggy went to her bunk for a nap. I stretched out on the settee to sleep. Terry was busy computing. All seemed quiet, if not quite sunny. But it improved. It even got a little sunny right over LUX. (In other words, I can still see lots of clouds following us.) Suddenly, there was a loud crash! Once again, Mother Nature proves that she can catch any little detail you overlook. Yes, the dingy did not get fully tied down before leaving the dock at Beaufort. So, just the right gust of wind tried to help the dingy go off and be free range. Terry and Carol rushed up front and made sure the dingy was once again securely fastened to the deck. We are back to motoring along. The sun is still shining just on LUX. The day is not too hot and not too cold. If we can stay out of further trouble, it looks to be a good afternoon on the water. It is just two hours later now. And, I know you won't believe this, but it is not raining. However, we are now being followed by seagulls! At present, there are three of them hovering right off our stern. Terry says they are looking for small fish stunned by the props. But, they all seem to be looking at Michael. Hmmm......

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6

Well, I know that you are surprised, but it was raining again this morning. And the cruising guide was not clear on when the bridge would open. So, we took advantage of the coutesy car to make a grocery run and an AutoZone run. While Terry, Mike and I were 'hunting and gathering,' Carol and Peggy started more laundry. I am beginning to believe that I will never be dry again. When we got back from the grocery store, Carol had just gotten the clothes into the dryers. So, I babysat dryers while the rest of the crew wandered about town. Don't feel sorry for me. They had a book exchange in the laundry room. And the magazine pile had cookbooks! So, I had a nice morning that included a free book. Now we are getting ready to leave Beaufort, SC. We are headed north. Today's conversation centered on how to say Beaufort. It is pronounced Bewfort, as Carol was politely corrected in one of the stores in town. Last night, by the way, we had really good barbecue in Q On Bay - a restaurant on the water.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5- On the Intercoastal Waterway

Today was an early start. All hands were on deck at 5:30 AM. Lucky for me that I am not one of the sailing crew! It appears that the plan of the day was to go down the ICW to Beaufort, SC. I can safely say that ocean traveling really lost its appeal during yesterday's thunderstorm. Even though Terry and Mike keep telling us that we were so much better off riding out a big storm in the ocean, I think I am happier here in the ICW. It is so much more like traveling on rivers in Maryland. But, I must say that the houses are even bigger on the ICW! However, the most interesting thing for me is the piers coming out from the houses. Of course, they really have to come out a distance because the ICW is mostly marshes. So, you will get these long piers with a very nice covered area at the end. Now, what is the logic in that? You might enjoy watching the water from your shady spot, but it is no help in the rain. After all, you will still have to walk a good quarter mile back to your house! I am, of course, thinking about rain because it is drizzling right now. That's better than the forecast, though. NOAA wanted to give us another severe thunderstorm, just like yesterday. In fact, just to try to avoid it, we actually anchored today in a semi-sheltered spot to ride out today's storm. This bit of fore-planning was very successful. The storm passed us by, and we have not had much more than drizzles. Several exciting things did happen today. The first was going under bridges in the ICW. We bought LUX for lots of reasons, one being that she would fit under ICW bridges. However, we did not know how tight that fit would be (at this point, I am sure Terry will chime in that HE knew, but, after all- this is MY blog entry.... I only knew LUX would fit). The second thing, for me, was the number of dolphins we saw today. I really didn't expect any on the ICW. I just thought it was more of a river experience. But we saw little groups of dolphins all day long. The third was that we passed Parris Island. I have heard many stories about the home of the marines, but I never realized what a beautiful location it is. Our stop for the night is the Beaufort City Marina. We plan to have dinner on shore. The marina has a courtesy car which Terry wants to use to go to AutoZone. Yes, it is time for more parts. Terry wants a fuel pump. I need to do a little more shopping for groceries. We are all out of fresh food. But, we still have some canned and dried stuff. Yes, I could safely go at least two more days. But that is my plan- always have two days in reserve. Finally - a side note to Linda and Tom... We have almost gotten rid of all the bimbos you left on this boat! And, today, Peggy and I finished off the last Snickers bar.