The infamous Dismal Swamp wasn’t so dismal, after all.
We spent two nights in Albemarle Plantation, a well-manicured gated community with a resident owned marina. A delightful golfing community, they loaned us an electric golf cart to traverse around. The slips were really wide, which meant I got to practice my lassooooing technique to secure the boat to the pilings.
Elizabeth City was our fifth port inside the Albermarle Loop, before traversing the Dismal Swamp. Another town, lost in time, Alisha would have loved this well stocked little sewing center.
Dock and Dine
This waterfront cold storage warehouse supplies most of the local restaurants in town, to encourage business they offered free dockage. In exchange boaters are asked to 1) shop at their local stores then 2) complete a short customer satisfaction survey. Brilliant!
Entrance to the Swamp
With numerous conflicting stories of how much the Dismal City was loved or hated, I was apprehensive when we heard of mechanical problems at the lock, trapping 4 boats inside just two days prior. When we heard the lock was operating again we headed to the swamp.
With the most spectacular weather we have experienced thus far in the journey, our experience was exceptional, worth repeating even.
We normally expect to “get what you pay for”, but, not always. A brilliant marketing campaign by a coalition of rural waterfront towns in North Carolina caused us to detour to an area that “time seems to have forgotten.”
Year round, one dozen marinas in the Albemarle Loop offer 2 nights free stay. Times 12 locations, that could equal up to 24 nights free. Proving public-private collaboration really can work (right, Sarah!) – with a little stimulus money, a dedicated chamber of commerce, and some clever entrepreneurs, each little town offers something special. And of course we bought something almost everywhere we went.
Waiting out the storm
We stayed in Oriental for a few days until there was a safe window to travel. It was definitely the right decision. At 3 am we found ourselves fully awake, surrounded by lightning, and strong winds.
Hospitality in Oriental
Yes, we took this little shuttle to the grocery store – you should have been there, Craig!
Alligator River Marina
This teeny tiny marina consisted of a gas station and a few small docks. The new manager, Anna, and her team cooked a delicious meal of fried chicken and potato salad the way my mom made it – bite size bits of potatoes and boiled eggs, lots of sweet pickles, and just the right amount of mustard. We suggest you order your food then take a stroll, they make it from scratch so it takes about 40 minutes. A quiet little refuge from yet another storm, a total of 5 looper boats showed up over time.
Originally known as Elizabethtown, this quaint historic town was renamed Columbia in 1801. The Municipal Marina had only one slip that could accommodate Exhale, and it was full. Resourceful gold loopers, Nelson and Sandra suggested we “raft off”, tying our boat to theirs, and then ran the power and water lines across their bow. Thanks guys – that was truly a fun evening!
In downtown Columbia we found authentic Mexican food (sorry no pics this time). In addition to the glowing recommendation from Active Captain, the delicious aromas from the street caused us to walk in. A VERY busy little restaurant, with a well stocked mini-mart, we enjoyed some of the best tasting tamales since we moved from California. It’s crazy busy for a reason. We were delighted to hear a local retailer (the antique store across the street) tell us the hardworking family successfully paid off the financing for their restaurant, in full, in just 18 months! Once again proving, when the food is delicious, the customers keep coming back.
Columbia Theater and Cultural Resources Center
In the heart of downtown we found the local museum. Thanks, Helen, for a delightful tour. Original theatre equipment, billboards, and even the “burnt-knuckle” popcorn machine were magical. Check out the costumes, Alisha!
We were surprised to discover a local winery. More than just a pretty label, this wine is made from local grapes. Paired with chocolate, of course.
Edenton was founded in 1712, it was the first colonial capital of North Carolina. Thanks, McCoy, for loaning us the city car, we certainly didn’t mind that “only one window worked, and the speedometer wasn’t quite right.”
1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse
Touring the lighthouse, situated in the same marina where we docked, was more than fantastic!! Fueled by whale oil, the lighthouse was originally located on screw-pilings in the Albemarle Sound.
Decommissioned in 1941, it was barged, and “parked” on dry land. In May 2007, thanks to a depressed real estate market, the lighthouse was purchased for $225,000 by the Edenton Historical Commission.
Dedicated local volunteers formed a non-profit to save and restore the lighthouse. Say a big YAY for a well focused non-profit with passionate, experienced fund raisers! Restoration History
Lighthouse Living Room
Small world moment – Rick knows one of the architects who refurbished the historic monument. Thanks Meghan Beckmann for the pre-restoration photos and for your role in restoring this precious treasure!
Exhale is docked adjacent to the lighthouse.
Liber-tea, 21′ Duffy
Look, Dave, this Duffy is also from California.
Penelope Barker House
c. 1782, the welcome center is found in the well preserved three-story Barker House. Originally located 2 blocks north, in 1952 the Jaycees and the Edenton Woman’s Club took title, and had it “rolled” to it’s present site. Southern Charm and humor abound.
Fun facts about Penelope: Born in 1728, she married John Hodgson when she was in her teens; at age 19 she was expecting her second child when her husband died and left her all of his property. At age 24 she married James Craven. Two years later he died, leaving her all of his property. At age 28 she married Thomas Barker. He was 44 at the time. Together they had 3 kids. The Barker house was built in 1762 by Thomas and Penelope. Additions to the home reflect an eclectic mix of Georgian, Federalist and Greek Revival styles. When Penelope was 59, Thomas died. He left her “town lots, 2 plantations, 33 mahogany chairs, 53 slaves, watches, horses and 400 books.” Penelope died at age 68.
Our visit to Edenton coincided with the annual garden party. Our favorite was the orchids that were on display in the Barker House.
A Cypress for Alisha
Cypress trees are amazingly strong, as if to say “Last Thing Standing.” Cypress trees remind me of Alisha, more than just surviving, she is thriving.
Next Stops – continuing the Albermarle Loop
So far in the Albermarle Loop we have stayed in Alligator River, Columbia, and Edenton. Next, we plan to visit Hertford, Elizabeth City, Albemarle Plantation and the Dismal Swamp Visitors Center. After we navigate the Dismal Swamp we are headed to Norfolk (the locals pronounce it Nor-fuck, no kidding) for the AGLCA spring rendezvous.
Wildflowers in the Carolinas are fragrant and colorful, reminding us to stop and smell the roses.
We tried to identify the local flowers, be advised, you can’t believe everything you read.
Beaufort, North Carolina
The quant little town of Beaufort, North Carolina is not to be confused with Beaufort, South Carolina. We finally learned how to properly pronounce each town..
If you think it’s tough to parallel park, try docking between pilings. Sometimes it’s a super tight squeeze, that’s when experience and patience come in real handy.
Sharing the water with boats big or small can add a sense of entertainment. Sometimes we see barge traffic,
Sometimes, it’s a fishing tournament!
Casper’s Marina – cute logo, right, yet, the marina felt a bit like a ghost town. Docking was easy, but as we attempted to hand the young dock hand our hose to hook up the water, he shrugged and said their water line was busted, and there was no water at any of the slips. Stressfully, the next marina was too far away to navigate before dark.
When I said to the Marina boss, “Ma’am, I am surprised you did not disclose the water problem when we telephoned you early this morning”for me that’s a thinly veiled way to say WTF – she responded, “Well, we haven’t been able to get a plumber to come out here for the past three weeks, BUT there’s water in the marina bathrooms” I shook my head in disbelief.
Water in the bathrooms (which was less than clean, by the way) was not exactly what we were hoping for. Fortunately, a very resourceful Captain Rick ran over 100 ft of hose from the main building to Exhale!
Hey Dale, we found a restaurant within walking distance of Casper’s Marina that we think you might enjoy. The clams and fettuccine at the IceHouse were delicious. And just up the street is a local hangout, Bake Bottle & Brew, with an ice cold beer that my brother Sam would love.
Oriental, North Carolina
You must agree, live music and local tiki bars warm the soul. The marina at Oriental is one of the best so far – surrounded by live music and friendly locals.
Craig found a Tiki Bar
We truly enjoyed the company of Craig Adford – from April 2nd through April 15th he shared our journey. A close friend and great companion, he helped run the boat, drove round trip to Cleveland, helped with all things social, and was a personal chef (so, awesome). Craig flew to Charlotte in a commuter flight this morning and is currently stuck at the airport, due to a storm, hoping to catch a flight to LAX, sometime in the near future … He texted “flight to LA cancelled due to tornado warnings. Wind and rain is intense, lightning to boot – stuck in the commuter plan until they declare it safe to deplane”
Thanks again Craig, can’t wait until you and Mo join us again.
Happy “birth” day little Gutierrez twins
Congrats to Erica, Elijah, London and Romeo – welcome to the world, sweet little twins.
We are currently in Oriental, waiting for a storm to pass (the same one that has Craig trapped in Charlotte). Next stop will be somewhere near Bellhaven, North Cackalacky.
Growing up I remember we could only eat oysters from September through April, months with the letter “R”. Now, thanks to overnight international shipping, you can probably get oysters year round. If you like fresh seafood, the most delicious local oysters, and an amazing prime rib, when you visit Southport, NC, Mr. P’s is a must!
Southport, North Carolina
This charming little town, winter population ~2,500, was the filming location for the 2013 romance, Safe Haven. Thanks to Amazon streaming, we watched the family friendly chick flick, recognizing most of the background locations. The film was a little sappy for Rick’s taste, but at least it ended with a delightful twist.
Welcome to Southport
E.B. Daniel Homestead Circa 1875
Robert Roark Inn
A tempting addition
Some swing bridges open only upon request. Figure Eight was supposed to open on the hour, every hour, from 7 am until 7 pm. BUT it didn’t really work like that; we arrived 10 minutes before the hour and then waited, impatiently, until 15 minutes after the hour. Hailing on channels 16, 13, 10 and 9 yielded no response. Thankfully there was a phone number listed in Active Captain. Rick thinks the Bridge Dude was still sleeping …
Figure Eight Island Bridge
Swing Bridge Closed
Slowly Swinging Open
Open for Water Passage
Play Date for Maddie
In Wrightsville Beach Maddie invited fellow boat dog, Sammy, to come aboard. Sammy let his boat mates, Dr. Will and Halcyon, hang out as well. By the way, Mo, Craig is still growing out his beard … inspired by Dr. Will and beloved idol, Dave Letterman.
At the pace of 7 knots, you can enjoy the random views along the way.
Dry Dock Storage
Fort Fisher Ferry
Next stop: Craig is running the boat today while Rick tries to repair the freezer (protecting the ice cream). Possibly near Swansboro, NC.
Exhale was docked in Myrtle Beach (March 30 to April 10) while we celebrated several special milestones.
Happy Birthday Exhale
Exhale is actually a slow boat from China. Coming through the Panama Canal, she arrived on a container ship via New Orleans just two years ago. Since then we have spent 593 hours on the water and traveled 4143 nautical miles. We are looking forward to many, many more.
Experienced Crew – Celebrating Good Friends
Thanks Craig, for joining us in Myrtle Beach, NC! Craig arrived on April 2, and will be on board until April 15. It’s fantastic having an experienced crew member on board.
Cleveland – Celebrating Tyler
Craig and Rick drove 679 miles in roughly 11 hours to surprise Tyler on his 2nd birthday. The journey to Cleveland included a little snow, which seems to be a constant during the first week of April.
Thanks Uncle Scott, Aunt Cindy, Rita, and Dan for helping us surprise Jamie, David and Tyler.
Our Grandson’s Birthday
On April 8, 2018 Tyler Jaxson Hendry turned two!
Mickey Mouse was in the House as Tyler celebrated his birthday with family and friends.
Why am I in Cleveland again?
Mouse Ear Fans David, aka Meatball and Grandpa Rick
Craig, Maddie and Rick
Los Angeles – Celebrating Alisha
Shortly before Craig arrived, I (MS) took a one-week side trip to LA (April 1 to April 7) to support Alisha during her surgery.
Alisha is the bravest, strongest woman I have ever encountered. When she was in her late teens she broke two vertebrae in her neck during a national snowboarding competition. It was a brutal crash. Although badly injured she bravely got up and walked down the mountain. Her approach to cancer has been very similar. She is a tower of strength, and she never gives up.
Since October, Alisha has endured seven nauseating rounds of chemo and two infusions. No surprise, she continues to work, non stop. In fact, in between the doses of chemo poisoning she successfully wrapped the second season of American Vandal, filmed in Portland.
Diagnosed triple positive in stage 3b; as of today, she is cancer free. Bravo, Mija, you are a champion. And in the words of one of her nurses at City of Hope, “she truly rocks that bald look.” Looking forward to the release of “one woman, one boob”. Te amo!
Special thanks to Liz (congrats, too), Dannie, Elke V, and Alisha’s sweet housemate J, for your love and support. More thanks to Josie for the brisk walks and warm companionship.
Extra thanks to Mo for the screaming fast wifi connection at her office, for taking a mini break from tax season for a delicious meal, and for the early morning ride to LAX. The flight to Cleveland was timed perfectly to join Rick and Mo’s hubby, Craig.
Meanwhile, back on the boat, there might have been some libations happening.
For medicinal purposes …
Rick and Maddie on the Dinghy
Next stop: Somewhere in North Carolina, Craig gets to pick the next marina, possibly Surf City, NC.
Shallow or skinny water can be a really bad day for a boater. A shallow pool is just sad.
Sorry Craig, we won’t be going swimming, yet.
Blue skies, nothing but blue skies.
After nearly a month of chilly weather, Easter morning was sunny and bright!
Myrtle Beach Lighthouse
Myrtle Beach Yacht Club hosted Easter Brunch – the hot food was more than yummy, especially the homemade gravy, oh my.
This fun little tiki bar reminded us of Matt and Michele. The outdoor shower was a hoot.
Where are we now?
MBYC was definitely pet friendly.
Sun Ripened Tomatoes
The cherry tomatoes are getting ripe!
Osprey, South Carolina
Life is Good when Rick can shop at Costco.
Earlier in the week we enjoyed two nights at Osprey Marina. Rick got his much needed “fix” at Costco, reminding us, again, that we are not really roughing it on this journey.
Reunited with our Looper friends from Kimberly Dawn, Scott Easton cooked up some deeee-licious ribs. Maddie was not too sure what to make of the resident goats.
Love for Family and Special Friends
Happy Easter, Good Pesach, and general spring tidings.
Warm wishes for Harry Potter’s buddy, Anders, and his beloved family.
Sending all of our love, hugs and kisses to Alisha.
Coming up: a visit from Craig Adford. Exhale will be docked at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in Little River, SC for the first part of April. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and say hi to the guys!
With a population of ~500 residents, in McClellanville either you work for, or you are related to, a McClellan.
Meet Leland McClellan
Born and raised in McClellanville, Leland, a fellow Looper, was docked immediately behind Exhale. After he helped tie up the lines he offered to show us around his home town. The McClellan family roots date back to 1740, when Andrew McClellan, Leland’s great grandfather, ran a freight boat. On Leland’s maternal side, the Lofton family presence in South Carolina dates back to the early 1600s. A natural story teller, we knew we were in the company of a local legend. It was the most amazing small town experience ever.
St. James Santee Parish Church
Our tour guide said, “while it’s still daylight, do you want to see the Old Brick Church?” We ventured along the Old Georgetown Road, also known as the Kings Highway. Located in a remote portion of Francis Marion National Forest, we noticed there were no street lights, no electric or telephone poles, and no buildings as far as the eye could see. Traveling on a historic designated road, the carefully preserved “dirt” road was once used by George Washington.
Arriving at the old church, we knew we were getting special treatment when our host let us in the back door. We marveled at the historic structure, built in 1768. Established by the French Protestant Huguenots, all it’s original glory remained intact.
the Old Brick Church
St. James Santee
The well maintained docks at Jeremy Creek are owned by Leland Oil Company.
Shrimp Boats & Forrest Gump
When Hurricane Hugo hit McClellanville it devastated the shrimping fleet. A resourceful film crew later used the wreckage in the filming of Forrest Gump! Jeremy Creek is still home to an active shrimp boat operation.
Let’s just say this was possibly the most delicious soft-shelled crab dinner we have ever experienced. And yes, that’s a whole crab! Thanks, Leland, for taking us to a local treasure, the Bent Rod.
Exquisitely cared for, the beloved Tiki Queen was tied up behind us at the Leland Oil Co. dock. We look forward to connecting with fellow loopers, Leland and Karen McClellan, along the way.
Any fifth grader can probably tell you the Civil War (1861-1865) began in South Carolina, as we wandered around Charleston I realized I seem to recall bupkis about US History.
The construction of Fort Sumter began in 1829 in response to the War of 1812.
The hexagon shaped fort was strategically placed at the harbor entrance to defend the deep water port from British troops – and pirates.
When South Carolina seceded in 1860 there were four Federal installations around Charleston Harbor. On April 12, 1861, under the command of Major Robert Anderson, Fort Sumter was guarded by only 85 Federal soldiers. After 34 hours of canon fire by the confederate militia – who had seized Forts Johnson, Moultrie, and Cummings Point – only five Federal soldiers suffered injuries; no one on either side was killed.
The Fort, burned and severely damaged, was surrendered to the Confederate troops, marking the beginning of a long and bloody war.
Who was Hannibal Hamlin?
Once again it felt like there was a missing segment in my aging memory bank. Staring at a vintage campaign poster for Abraham Lincoln (my (Mary’s) dad was something like a 6th cousin to Mary Todd Lincoln), I was totally perplexed. Next to Abe was some guy named Hannibal – questioning the validity of the poster, of course I “googled” him.
According to Wikipedia, Lincoln’s running mate was a Maine Democrat who changed his party affiliation when he joined the ticket with Abe, the very first Republican president. We learned (seriously for the first time) that the 15th VP, Hannibal Hamlin(1809-1891), successfully pressured Abe to pursue emancipation. In 1864, Tennessee War Democrat Andrew Johnson (the name we all remember) was chosen to run on the Union Ticket with Abe. Hamlin returned to his home state to serve as Senator of Maine, and was later chosen as Minister to Spain; in total he spent over 50 years as a public servant.
US Customs House
Inclement weather meant a tour of local museums – The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, preserved by the Daughters of the American Revolution, kept us mesmerized for hours – from the architecture to the entertaining docents, it was well worth the senior priced admission. The oldest building in Charleston was constructed above the original Battery.
A dramatic statement of wealth, the Exchange was once home to the Constitutional Convention as SC became the eighth state to ratify the US Constitution in 1788. Ground level floors were used for trading and a post office while the basement was deemed a “Provost”, or dungeon, for pirates and war criminals. Most impressive, the majestic upper floor includes a grand ballroom used by President George Washington; perfectly preserved, it is now a popular wedding space.
The historic charm of Charleston was found in the cobblestone streets and well-preserved churches, dating back to the early 1800’s.
Cobble Stone Streets
Frogs are your friends
Protection from a Storm
When the weather gets windy, you look for protection – when you are docked near the USS Yorktown, it feels pretty safe.
Next Stop: McClellanville, SC – or somewhere nearby-ish
As record storms slammed the east coast again, Exhale was surrounded by heavy wind, rain, and hail storms. Refuge was found in the historic port of Beaufort, South Carolina for three stormy days.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Dodging the rain, we toured the local community, finding several historic gems.
In Beaufort, our dock mates were the delightful Easton family – Kim, Scott, Chris, Ryan and their Director of Guest Relations, Charlie. Kimberly Dawn began her journey in Tennessee, they have been on the water since last summer. Similar in speed, together we plan to anchor out, once the storm clears.
The Few, The Proud, The Marines
“I learned more about American History in the past two hours than I did in high school”, said Capt. Rick. Without a doubt, the Parris Island Marine Corp museum has more military artifacts than any museum we have ever seen. Take your time; it’s an educational, emotional journey.
Notice the viperous snake wound around the Southern Republic tree. Proud of our deep California roots, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York connections.
What type of plane was that?
We marveled as the military planes flew by – we think this one was the Harrier, since it hovered overhead, as if it was suspended in motion. We saw multiple aircrafts in the span of 15 minutes – touch and go – high and low!
Happy to be back on the water, we enjoyed the hospitality of South Carolina.
Location, location, location. These lucky birds secured an exclusive waterfront property.
Not all Boat Dogs are friendly – Stranger Danger
As most of you know, Maddie is a highly social dog. She loves to meet new people and she is quick to sniff new dogs, of all sizes. Bigger dogs, like Maddie’s best friend Chopper, are often the most friendly. Unfortunately, smaller dogs, especially Miniature Schnauzers are royal jerks. It turns out dogs that are actually at eye level can do a lot of damage in less than 5 seconds. After a malicious encounter I guarantee you Maddie will not be so quick to say hello. A hard nip on her ear and her neck may have scared us more than her! A readily available first aid kit came in handy, and she seems to be okay. Lesson learned, you are right, Mo; Stranger, Danger.
After a rough storm and a mean dog, Maddie might be looking for a good bourbon.
Next stop – Steamboat, anchoring out with Kimberly Dawn.
Over 500,000 people were expected in Savannah for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade; since crowds are not “our thing”, we detoured up the East Channel Medway River. The water was skinny (shallow), as discovered by this go-fast boat.
Although it looks like that guy is walking on water, sadly, his boat is stuck in the sand.
Sunbury Crab Company – St. Patrick’s Day
We were headed to a local treasure in Midway, GA, Sunbury Crab Company Restaurant and Marina. MOTA and AGLCA members we recommend you detour off the ICW like we did – it’s well worth the journey. Tell the owners, Elaine and Barney Maley, that Exhale sent you. Call ahead, (912) 884-8640, you won’t regret it. www.sunburycrabco.com
We know, the cheddar cheese fries are not at all healthy, but they were more than decadent with an ice cold Yuengling, followed by the perfect portions of mahi mahi, grilled shrimp and a tender rib eye. The next morning we left at high tide, to reduce the chance of sand surfing.
Isle of Hope
Southern hospitality at this delightful marina includes a loaner car – thanks, Kimberly!
Almost8 strongly encouraged us to explore the majestic waterfront – so glad we did!
The streets of Savannah were absolutely entertaining – unique little boutiques, live music, and delightful places to eat. Okay, I couldn’t stop laughing when we discovered the Dancing Dogs Yoga studio; and then we found the Paula Deen store. Hey! My butter churned to chocolate – Butter, butter, and more butter, Y’all.
Canons and Steeples
Recommended by the dock master, we parked near Madison Square, then headed north to the water front. Along the way we marveled at the architecture, and paused to admire the well preserved Washington Guns, which welcomed distinguished visitors to Savannah including Jefferson Davis, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, William Taft and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Thanks again Almost8 – the historic sites in Savannah were breathtaking!
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all weekend, instead of leprechauns they have coyotes and beavers as the Irish mascots in Jekyll Harbor!
We highly recommend the fresh shrimp dinner at the Riverhouse in Jekyll Harbor, GA. Tip: sit at the bar, enjoy the service and an ice cold draft. If you opt to eat outside be advised, the aggressive little no-see-uhms are hungry, too.
St. Augustine, St. John County
St. Augustine is one of our favorite cities on the east coast of Florida, delicious local food and countless historic sites are abundant. We spent a full week there last year so we only sailed by – but no worries, we will be back again, for sure.
Smoke on the Water
Anchored out in Ponte Vedra Beach, another magical experience. Early morning waters included a wisp of fog.
Celebrating Shrimp Season
It’s easy to exhale when the water is smooth as glass!
Wishing you sweet dreams, Stephen Hawking
With deep sadness the world said goodbye this week to a rare man. Your brilliance and humor will be greatly missed, Stephen William Hawking. Enjoy the cosmos.
‘One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.’
The popular marina bar is ominously named Ichabod. I wondered, is it a reference to the headless horseman or perhaps the Hebrew meaning “without honor”? Well, we were here earlier this year, on Super Bowl Sunday. There were about a dozen people in the bar merrily eating and drinking, with the big game in the background on multiple screens. To our complete surprise, the bartender announced he was going to close the bar before half-time, shortly after we finished our first beer, so you decide …
In Melbourne we met fellow loopers Ron and Debbie Hartwell, captains of Bucket List.
The waters of Fort Pierce included the entertainment of seasoned tugs who adeptly maneuvered a barge, along with small fishing crafts enjoying the crisp morning air.
From Cocoa Village to Daytona Beach, we marveled at the bridges.
In New Smyrna Beach, FL we anchored out for the first time on this journey! With two sailboats and another troller anchored nearby, we set the DragQueen (just ask Hazel, it’s an app with an obnoxious alarm that goes off when the anchor moves too far away), and poured a delicious glass of red wine. Yes, HereWeGo, you can join us anytime!
No marina noise, no wind, no rain, no trains, no air conditioning or running generators; it was the perfect quiet for a truly restful sleep!
Sweet Sounds of Silence
Early morning departure was very chilly for Florida. As you can see, the task required a warm coat, long pants and gloves! In short order, Rick deftly pulled up the anchor, and we were on the road again.
Not sure where we will head next – maybe St. Augustine, maybe another anchoring spot near Jacksonville.
No, Hazel, the Exhale is NOT for sale. The North Pacific trawler is typically seen in the Puget Sound area – Canada, Alaska, and Washington. A bit of a novelty on the east coast, we opened our home to nearly 700 people during the 2018 Trawlerfest in Stuart, FL. Our guard dog, Maddie Sue, made sure no one sat on her recliner.
On Tuesday, the crowded looper seminar confirmed our general travel plans, with stunning photos of historic ports and scenery along the way there was only one rule – keep a close eye on the weather!
Trevor Brice, President of North Pacific Yachts, tirelessly answered questions from curious boaters for four full days. Our dear friend, David Floyd, was the first overnight guest on the Great Loop!
Sunday Dinner Guests: Thanks Howard and Ann Freedman for making the drive from Delray Beach. Together we found a hidden gem for dinner – Sauder’s Landing, 9815 S. Ocean Dr, Bldg S., Jensen Beach, FL. Nestled in a gated community, this waterfront local restaurant has the best crab cakes I have ever eaten in a restaurant (almost, but not quite as good as Marty Liljequist’s homemade)! The grouper bites were amazing. Save room for homemade dessert, the portions are generous with plenty enough to share. www.sauderslanding.com
And the winner is …
At the end of the festival, PassageMaker, the popular trawler lifestyle magazine, awarded a trophy to the top voted boat in the show. In addition to our North Pacific, boats on display included Azimut, Bavaria (thanks for the memories, looper blogger First Mate Kate), Beneteau, Cutwater, Fleming, Hampton, Horizon, Jenneau, Krogen, Minorcan Islander, Prestige (we miss you, Ann Hughes and Dale Morgan!), Nordhavn, Nordic Tug, Northern Marine, Ranger Tug, Rosborough, and Trawlercat. Whew.
That’s right – in the midst of so many beautiful vessels, the 2018 People’s Choice Award went to Exhale!
Thanks Passage Maker for the truly awesome cheeseboard!
And now for a message from Mother Nature …
The boat show finally ended on Sunday. Today (Monday) our departure has been delayed by the weather, giving us plenty of time to update this blog.
Next Stop: Somewhere along the ICW, north of Stuart, weather permitting.
Where is your favorite bridge? Perhaps several come to mind.
Around the world, brilliant engineers and architects successfully “bridge” commerce and recreation – majestically shaping the waterfront. Bridges in many forms create efficient connections for land lovers; suspension bridges, cantilevered bridges, arched, cabled, and beamed bridges, you get the idea. Traveling on the water, bridges can create major obstacles. Fixed bridges are simple – either your boat fits underneath, or it doesn’t. The minimum clearance for Exhale is 17′ 2″, after we lower the antennae and remove the radar equipment. Moveable bridges can be more complicated, since they require an operator to open the bridge. Along the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW), one must be patient since some of the bridge workers seem to be on an unpredictable schedule. That means we have drifted in the water anywhere from 5 minutes to nearly two hours. Note to self, if you arrive at a railway bridge shortly before noon you will probably have enough time to make a sandwich, and possibly take a nap, before the bridge finally opens again.
If the dog could talk she would say, “Just sit back, relax, and marvel at the engineering and architecture” on second thought, she probably just wants to know, “when will dinner be ready?”
That’s right, I made a mess. And no, I will not pick up my toys …
Is that a teeny tiny house? Perhaps it’s for bowser? I can only speculate, but, if Almost7 was here he would probably say, “location, location, location”!
Come Visit us at the Trawler Fest at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina, 555 NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart Fl. We are here through Sunday, March 11th.
The Port Mayaca Railway lift bridge was one of my favorite on the Florida water ways, until Almost8 pointed out it resembles a guillotine …. you decide.
We docked for the night in Indiantown, a well known safe haven. For a very small fee, boats and RVs of all types and sizes reserve a spot every year, in case there is a storm. During Hurricane Irma hundreds of boaters found refuge in the little village – no one was turned away – and none of the boats were damaged by the storm! We were thrilled to find Namaste, a well-loved sailboat previously owned by fellow looper, JoAnn McFall.
It was our first truly restful night of sleep, the perfect temperature with a gentle breeze flowing through the cabin all night.
Some of the boats have been there for a very very very long time; yep, that’s black mold. Note the irony of this boat’s name “Git ‘R Done”
… this is why we have to wash the boat all the time, darn it.
Next stop – Stuart Florida.
If you are headed to the Trawler Fest, look for us at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina, Stuart, FL – Tuesday, March 6 through Saturday, March 10.
If you enjoy a fresh and juicy hamburger, the kind that is really messy – filled with grilled onions, ‘shrooms, and bacon – we recommend you visit one of our VERY favorite burger stops in Clewiston, FL; Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina.
On Friday and Saturday nights the place is rocking – live music and dancing. The beer is served really, really cold – so join the fun – or bring earplugs!
DAY 3 – A Nor’easter, 20 to 25 knots, blew all night long. Early Saturday morning we pondered, “should I stay, or should I go?” If we stayed, would it be another sleepless night? If we left, would it be a miserable ride? The Clewiston dockmaster, salty Captain Sam, cautioned us, “Stay off the lake or you might run aground between the swells – take the rim route, just take it slow.” Take it Slow? Well, that’s our only speed!
Lake Okeechobee is a massive body of water. Most boats opt to traverse the middle of the lake, since it’s a direct route. The second option is a perimeter route, an extra 11 miles or about 2 hours for a slow going trawler. The center route can be a little overwhelming for novice boaters – especially when there is no land in sight. In good weather, the Lake can be up to 14 feet deep, but when it hasn’t rained for a while in spots it’s extremely shallow. Bottom line, getting stuck can cause tremendous damage to your boat, and it’s no fun, especially in nasty weather.
Heading Capt Sam’s advice, we followed a cherry red trawler from Queenstown, Maryland. Wye Tug bears a gold looper flag, that means they successfully finished the loop, some sections multiple times. Exhale is a white looper, for now. If you ever see a platinum colored flag, the boat has finished the loop multiple times!
Together we waited for the swinging bridge at Slim’s Fishing Camp to open. Thanks to Dick and Phyllis Radlinski, Wye Tug, who spotted an eagle along the way!
March 1, 2018 – Ceremonial raising of the America’s Great Looper flag. Thanks everyone for the great sendoff, including Tyler and Jamie who joined us via FaceTime! Special thanks to our dear friend and Future Looper, Dale Morgan, for the launch video.
On March 1, 2018 the M/V Exhale, a comfy North Pacific trawler, departs Fort Myers, Florida, commencing on a 6,000 mile journey on the America’s Great Loop. On board are two “almost retired” baby boomers, Rick & Mary, and one faithful boat dog, Maddie Sue. This blog will share random bits and pieces of our journey along the way.
breathe out in a deliberate manner.
“she sat back and exhaled deeply”
The trawler: North Pacific is based in Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA.