4/26/19 to 5/1/19
When last we left you, Tom and Lorenzo were working on our port engine at Seapath Marina in Wrightsville Beach, 14 miles short of where we had ended the previous day. With the elbow Lorenzo made installed, they started the engine. All seemed well until they found a leak in the fiberglass muffler. Not having the necessary supplies on the boat, it was back the 45 minutes to Lorenzo’s house in Holden Beach to repair the muffler. When they had not returned by 9:00 PM, Paula texted the suggestion that Lorenzo bring his jammies and stay the night. Lorenzo, being a night person, thought that was funny. When they finally returned to the marina shortly after 10:00, Tom got out, and since we’re not night people, sent Lorenzo back home. After all, we planned to spend 2 nights at Seapath Marina due to the forecast thunderstorms the next day, so Tom could finish the repair the next day.
We borrowed the marina courtesy car, a rarity. Tom treated Paula to a wonderful crab and shrimp omelet at David’s Deli at the suggestion of the dockmaster at the marina. We hit a couple of thrift shops and got a few good deals. Then it was off to CVS, Walmart, and Costco to stock up on a few things before returning to the marina. The forecast thunderstorms did not materialize but we had big wind all day and even bigger in the evening. It got up to 28 mph with gusts to 47.
Tom repainted and reinstalled the muffler while Paula enjoyed some time to knit and plan our journey. We got to see Claud & Lori again and had a delicious dinner at Positalia. There was a line from which you choose either pasta (2 types), salad, or wrap, then several meat options, 5 sauces, and lots of vegetables. We both had pasta with salmon and wonderful toppings. The 2 meals made 5 in total, eating them in the following days. It was fun to have extra time with Claud and Lori.
We departed at 6:45 the following morning for the 7:00 opening of the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, hoping for a long day of 80 miles to Morehead City. Enroute, the port engine alarmed again (&%#@*^>)! Both the temperature and oil pressure looked good this time, but Paula shut it down. Tom checked the engine room again and could find no problems, so we started it back up again. Still alarming. Tom eventually discovered a bad temperature sensor and removed it. Finally…quiet.
We stopped for fuel at Sneads Ferry in New River, as it was one of the cheapest places on the East Coast at $2.31/gallon for diesel. We had to wait 30 minutes just to get to the busy dock! It took us a total of an hour and 15 minutes before we were on our way again – more lost time. The wind was forecasted to be a max of 17 mph for the day but increased as we motored along until, by the time we got to Swansboro, it was really blowing. Because of the fueling delay, we now couldn’t make Morehead City, still 3 hours away, so headed for the Swansboro anchorage. But it was very exposed with whitecaps kicking up from the wind, as well as waves and current, all pushing us toward a low bridge, so we abandoned that option.
Tom made a quick call the Casper’s Marina just 100 yards away to see if we could get a slip. By the time he had the bumpers in place, there were 3 dockhands standing alongside to catch our lines. The marina radioed the winds were 33 mph. With the Lord’s help, it went amazingly well. As if the weather wasn’t enough, the port engine alarm sounded after just a few lines were wrapped! Paula shut it down again.
About 10 minutes after we docked another DeFever 44 slipped in next to us at the marina, and we helped the dockhands catch their lines before meeting Mike and Linda on Changes in Attitude. We all walked to the cute town about 2 blocks long with friendly merchants and got to know each other a little. We browsed a few stores, but only got the wallet out at the fudge shop.
Tom eliminated 2 more alarm sensors in preparation for the next day’s departure. (These were all sensors he had added to alert us of a temperature increase before damage might be done.) When we started it up in the morning, though, the engine alarmed again! With one more sensor removed, we pulled out. “Fix temp alarms” went on the list!
No sooner had we sterned out than the starboard engine shut itself down and sounded its alarm! The starboard engine which had not caused us any problem since a piston was replaced on our first Loop. Tom quickly moved the bumpers to arrive at the easier outer face dock. Safely back at the dock, the problem was quickly found. Fortunately (though embarrassingly), it was user error. A fuel valve was in the wrong position. The engine had shut down due to fuel starvation – oops!
We finally got off the dock at 7:00 AM for real. A local captain warned us enroute of shoaling between red marker #40A and 40 (sometimes extra markers are added when necessary and letters are added) and later at #12. Local knowledge is so helpful! He saw it shallow to 6’ but by hugging the port side of the channel as he suggested, the least we saw was 9’.
We passed Morehead City and Beaufort Inlet. It was very quiet, unlike the previous Loop’s passage when there was a fishing tournament going on with boats everywhere! Core Creek, next, was pretty with its tree-lined banks and moderate houses. We continued on into the long Neuse and Bay rivers, crossing in light chop with about 2’ waves near the end before we turned back into the land cut. We anchored at 4:50 PM in the Snode Creek anchorage with one other Gold Loop boat. That was early for us lately; we had made 76 miles with a good current push. There was plenty of watery real estate, enough for probably 30 boats in a depth of 10’. We enjoyed lounging in the sunshine on the aft deck, Tom working on pictures for the blog, Paula doing her favorite relaxing pastime – knitting.
The wind was supposed to subside overnight. Instead, when we arose, it was blowing at 17 mph. We quickly checked the weather. It was still good and forecasted lower winds as the day progressed. So, we pulled the anchor and set out on the long route across the Pamlico River leading into the Pungo River. It was rough, with waves 1.5 – 2’ at 2-second intervals. (That short interval meant that every 2 seconds, the boat was hitting another wave.) Tom drove to keep his stomach happy. It was a quiet morning, with few boats. The water was an ugly brown, the kind of water that puts an unattractive “mustache” on the bow of all boats that move through it. The overcast blended the sky and water into one, making it a dreary day.
The temperature was low 70’s. You think, “Oh what a nice day.” But add in the wind while boating. It was cold. We started out the day in multiple layers of fleece and jackets (but we are wimps). We shed them very sparingly as the day went on and then later had to add them back on. It seemed we had definitely outrun the warm weather of the deep south.
When we went into the 21-mile Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, it calmed down as the land protected us from the winds. It was long, straight, and boring with stumps (often called “snags” because you don’t want to get caught up in them) along each bank. You can get the idea of what a land cut looks like in the picture above.
Then we were once again into another river. The rivers used for the ICW route through NC are more like huge bays and we were at times going along them for miles rather than across them. But unlike the ocean, the waves, created by the energy formed by wind over water were uniquely different and much more uncomfortable.
Here’s your science lesson for the day. Waves move energy, not water. The water molecules actually circle from crest to trough in each wave. (Remember how a ball thrown into the waves of the ocean didn’t come back to you but stayed in relatively the same place?) As the energy increases, as with stronger winds, the wavelength also increases. Unless…the water is shallow, in which case the wave is suppressed. But the energy still has to go somewhere, so it creates waves which are steeper and closer together.
The rivers and sounds we were traversing might have been 50 miles long (like the Albemarle Sound), but they were generally less than 20’ deep. The Albemarle Sound was coming up the next day, our biggest sound yet to cross. It lies west of Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks. And do you know why the Wright brothers chose Kitty Hawk to test their new-fangled flying machine? Wind. We were praying for a lousy day to test flying contraptions.
Since we were going from one anchorage to another (without external power), Tom started the generator to recharge the batteries. Aaugh – another alarm! He shut it down. This was becoming a seemingly never-ending story. What was going on???
We finally got to our selected anchorage for the night called Sandy Point (how creative…not). The same Loop boat we anchored behind the previous night, Seeker, pulled in just after we did. When we arose in the morning, we discovered 3 more boats had joined us. There was plenty of room in the Little Alligator River which wasn’t at all little. Tom went to work on several boat problems, as was becoming his evening routine. Anchored where we were just past the Alligator River Marina, it marked the completion of Paula’s having done all the docking/locking for the complete Loop.
You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” We got our wish. In the morning, it was dead calm. When we walked out the entry door however, we remembered why some wind was a blessing. The boat was covered with flying insects. Fortunately, they were not the biting kind; none-the-less, they were very irritating flying around us. We clothed ourselves in mosquito netting to pull out of the anchorage. We have never understood when asked when he wanted the frogs removed from the land, the Pharaoh said, “Tomorrow.” (Exodus 8:8-10). We wanted them gone immediately! Instead, they continued to “bug” us for several more hours!
It was a great day for traversing the Albemarle Sound though, at least until the wind picked up. Then it was a bit like being waked repeatedly by a passing boat. After entering behind some land, it was calm again.
About 2 miles after we left Sandy point, the route split with the choice of the Dismal Swamp, which we had done on our first Loop, and the Virginia Cut. For variety, we chose the Virginia Cut. About the only thing of note was Coinjock, NC. We’ve heard the marina sells a T-shirt printed, “Where in the %$*#^ is Coinjock?” But all Loopers know the town.
At some point during all the “alarming” events of the past week, Paula realized the alarm switches for the engines were opposite on the flybridge driving station versus the inside driving station. On the flybridge, “ON” was toward you; on the lower station, “ON” was forward, a configuration for confusion. Tom corrected the ones on the flybridge enroute. This seemed to be the reason the list never got shorter (right now, 26 items). We kept finding new things that needed fixin’!
After lunch, when most of the insects were gone (we never got rid of all or them), Paula began scrubbing the flybridge floor with a bucket of water and a hand brush. Their squished guts left by walking on them left a greenish slime behind. (Gloria, where were you? Green is your favorite color! And the whole ordeal reminded us of all the spiders we found on the boat upon our return to Midland after being gone a month.) An hour later, it looked much better, maybe better than before we were inundated, as we hadn’t done that through a cleaning in a while. Ain’t this boat ownership fun???
We got to the North Landing bridge with perfect timing for the top of the hour opening (providence, because we don’t plan bridges so well), but had to wait 25 minutes for the Norfolk Southern RR Bridge. Once arriving at Atlantic Yacht Basin Marina, we were directed to the face dock just alongside the river. We had specifically asked for a location in the back so we wouldn’t be waked by the passing boats since we were leaving it there while we returned to Phoenix for 12 days. Fortunately, the next day we were able to get a slip in the back.
Tom spent the remainder of the day attacking the forward head problem again. He came up with an interesting way to be able to use 2 hands and still not fall into the bilge. He had Paula sit on his legs as a counter-balance…ingenious. He took the processing unit apart, cleaned and tested it. The motors worked!!! He reinstalled it. It didn’t work. Oh well. At least we know now where the problem isn’t. Meanwhile, Paula did laundry and began preparing for our departure.
The next installment of our adventures will be after a short return to our home in Phoenix.
Side note: While working on the head, Tom removed the medicine cabinet from the forward head and found the drawing below on the back side of the driving station panel. The boat was made in Taiwan, hence the drawing of the dragon.