Dismal Swamp – NC to Virginia

The infamous Dismal Swamp wasn’t so dismal, after all.

Dismal Swamp Not So Dismal

Albemarle Plantation

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.

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Tied to a piling WAAAAY over there
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Albemarle Plantation Dockmaster

Elizabeth City

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.

Sewing Center Small Town USA
Sewing Center – for Alisha
Singer Elizabeth City
Small Town, frozen in time
Elizabeth City
Main St., Elizabeth City

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.

Atlantic ICW Mills Lock

With the most spectacular weather we have experienced thus far in the journey, our experience was exceptional, worth repeating even.

Reflective Waters

Dismal Swamp Visitors Center

So, what exactly is the Dismal Swamp??

Dismal Swamp History Here

Dismal Swamp5 Visitors Center

112,000 acres of forested wetlands.  In 1763, George Washington visited the area, and he and others founded the Dismal Swamp Company in a venture to drain the swamp and clear it for settlement. The swamp’s role in the history of slavery in the United States is reflected in Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s second novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp.

We docked at the Visitors Center, our final stop in the Albermarle Loop. A new looper friend, trawler cat Nine Lives rafted off of us. We then traveled in tandem to Norfolk.

Nine Lives

Hello, Virginia

Dismal Swamp Day Two VA

Entrance to Norfolk

Gateway to Norfolk
Norfolk Naval Center

The entrance to Norfolk, VA is dramatic, more details in the next post. Thanks Maureen for the dinner suggestion.   The Prime Rib at Freemason Abbey was yummy.

Waterside Marina, Rendezvous Week

The AGLCA Rendezvous is in Norfolk, VA through May 3. It’s time for Seminars and New friends!

Albemarle Loop – historic side trip to a place time forgot

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.”

 AlbemarleLoop

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.

 

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Surrounded by Stormy Weather

Hospitality in Oriental

Yes, we took this little shuttle to the grocery store – you should have been there, Craig!

Piglet Shuttle

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.

Columbia, NC

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!

ColumbiaMarina

SandraAndNelson2
M/V Destinees, Sandra, Nelson and Eli

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!

Scuppernong Wines

Wine

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 Harbor

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.

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Roanoke River Lighthouse c. 1886

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.

Pre-Restoration Lighthouse
Pre-restoration ~2008

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

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!

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Exhale is docked adjacent to the lighthouse.

Liber-tea, 21′ Duffy

Look, Dave, this Duffy is also from California.

Liber-Tea Duffy

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.

Local Orchids

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.

Cypress for Alisha2

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.

Springtime in the Carolinas

Taking time to smell the Flowers

Wildflowers in the Carolinas are fragrant and colorful, reminding us to stop and smell the roses.

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Pretty Pink Blossoms
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Iris Prismatica
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Sharp wing monkey flower?
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Ally Garden – Italian style

We tried to identify the local flowers, be advised, you can’t believe everything you read.

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Purple loosestrife
NCRosemary
Rosemary
Roses
Roses
NCCloverForJosie
for Josie

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..

BeaufortSC

Docking Skills

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.

NarrowDock

Marine Traffic

Sharing the water with boats big or small can add a sense of entertainment. Sometimes we see barge traffic,

MarineTraffic

Sometimes, it’s a fishing tournament!

Fishing
fishing time

Swansboro, NC

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!

Casper

IceHouse Waterfront

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.

Thanks Craig!

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”

Commuter Plane
Craig’s Commuter Plane

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.

Next Stop:

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.

 

North Carolina Oysters

R’s and P’s

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!

Oysters3
Fresh, fresh, fresh!
Oysters2
the BEST Oyster stop

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.

Swing Bridges

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

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.

PlayDateSammy
Sammy
Dr.Will or DavidL
Dr. Will, or is it Dave Letterman?
PlayDate
Puppy Play Date

Water Scenery

At the pace of 7 knots, you can enjoy the random views along the way.

Next stop:  Craig is running the boat today while Rick tries to repair the freezer (protecting the ice cream). Possibly near Swansboro, NC.

Celebrating Milestones

Exhale was docked in Myrtle Beach (March 30 to April 10) while we celebrated several special milestones.

Happy Birthday Exhale

Alisha
Irises and more

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.

Crew Craig A
Craig Adford. Licensed Pilot (really). Experienced Crew.

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.

Snow 2016
April 2016
ClevelandSnow
April 2017
ClevelandSnow2
April 2018

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!

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Jamie, Tyler, Grandpa Rick and Gramma Mary
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I’m Two! April 8, 2018
Mickey1
Well Helloooo!
GrandpaRick
Tyler reads to Grandpa

Mickey Mouse was in the House as Tyler celebrated his birthday with family and friends.

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 and Liz

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! 

Alisha3
Alisha J. Silverstein

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.

Josie
Alisha’s adorable frenchy, Josie, outside the coffee shop

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.

Next stop:  Somewhere in North Carolina, Craig gets to pick the next marina, possibly Surf City, NC.

 

 

 

Shallow Water – Myrtle Beach

Shallow or skinny water can be a really bad day for a boater.  A shallow pool is just sad.

Shallow Water

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 Yacht Club hosted Easter Brunch – the hot food was more than yummy, especially the homemade gravy, oh my.

MBYC Easter Brunch

Tiki BargeThis fun little tiki bar reminded us of Matt and Michele.  The outdoor shower was a hoot.

MBYC was definitely pet friendly.

Sun Ripened Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are getting ripe!

Tomatoes
Boat tomatoes getting ripe

Osprey, South Carolina

Costco
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.

Are You Barking at Me
You barking at me?
Osprey Marina
Osprey Marina
Mac and Cheese
Ribs by Scott Easton

Love for Family and Special Friends

Happy Easter, Good Pesach, and general spring tidings.

Anders aka Harry Potter

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!

 

McClellanville, SC – the ultimate small town experience.

McClellanville

With a population of ~500 residents, in McClellanville either you work for, or you are related to, a McClellan.

Meet Leland McClellan

Leland McClellan
Leland McClellan. Notice the AGLCA shirt!

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.

Jeremy Creek

The well maintained docks at Jeremy Creek are owned by Leland Oil Company.

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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.

Shrimp Boat for Sanda
This one is for Sandra and Danielle

Soft-Shelled Crab

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.

Soft Shelled Crab
Soft Shelled Crab at The Bent Rod

Tiki Queen

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.

Tiki Queen
Looper Tiki Queen

Next Stop:   Waccawache Marina, SC

 

Charleston History Lesson

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.

CivilWar

Fort Sumter

The construction of Fort Sumter began in 1829 in response to the War of 1812.

Water

The hexagon shaped fort was strategically placed at the harbor entrance to defend the deep water port from British troops – and pirates.

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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.

Seceded
Secession Map

Seceded2

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

US Customs House
US Customs House, Charleston, SC

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.

US Customs House Dungeon
US Customs House Dungeon
US Customs House Provost
US Customs House Provost – unique architecture

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.

Charming Charleston

The historic charm of Charleston was found in the cobblestone streets and well-preserved churches, dating back to the early 1800’s.

St. John
St. John’s Cathedral
St. Phillips
St. Phillips

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.

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USS Yorktown

Next Stop:  McClellanville, SC – or somewhere nearby-ish

Rock me Mama, the Wind and the Rain

EyeOfTheStorm
Eye of the Storm

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.

HistoricBeaufort
Historic Beaufort

 

VioletsForMyMom
Violets For Laura Jo

Fellow Loopers

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.

KimberlyDawn
Kimberly Dawn

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.

IwoJima
Iwo Jima
Built From The Ruins
Southern Republic

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!

Harrier
Is it a Harrier jump jet? Fly by

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Southern Hospitality

Happy to be back on the water, we enjoyed the hospitality of South Carolina.

NoWake
No Wake Please

Location, location, location.  These lucky birds secured an exclusive waterfront property.

Happy Dolphin!
Yep, the dolphin is faster!

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.

Looking for my body guard
Where was Chopper when I needed him?
For Josie and Alisha

After a rough storm and a mean dog, Maddie might be looking for a good bourbon.

Next stop – Steamboat, anchoring out with Kimberly Dawn.

 

Georgia on my mind

Off the beaten path on St. Patrick’s Day

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.

Walking on Water?
Walking on Water?

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

Sunbury Crab Company
541 Brigantine Dunmore Rd, Midway, GA

Sunbury4

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

Dexter
Dexter
GeorgianHospitality
Yuengling, of course

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!

IsleOfHope
Isle of Hope, Georgia

SavannahWaters2

Historic Savannah

Almost8 strongly encouraged us to explore the majestic waterfront – so glad we did!

WaterFront
Riverfront Plaza
Chippewa Square
Chippewa Square
Carriage Rides
Carriage Rides
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John Wesley, founder of Methodism
HistoricDistrict
Freemason’s Hall
BritishPub
British Pub – yes, Hazel, the phone booth works!
Y'All
Chocolate Butter? Thanks Paula Deen
Butter Y'All
This one is for FixItAnders
DancingDogsYoga
Maddie was not interested.

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

Guns
Washinton Guns – Chatham Artillery
Steeple
Independent Presbyterian Church

Guns2

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!

Next Stop:  Hilton Head, South Carolina.

 

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

Proud to be Irish!

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all weekend, instead of leprechauns they have coyotes and beavers as the Irish mascots in Jekyll Harbor!

IrishWolf
Irish Coyote
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Jekyll Harbor
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Irish Beaver?

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.

Smoke on the Water
Ponte Vedra Beach
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Jekyll River

Celebrating Shrimp Season

It’s easy to exhale when the water is smooth as glass!

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Smooth Waters

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Dream Catcher
Dream Catcher – Fresh Shrimp!
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Twilight

Birds

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.’ 

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018

Next Stop – Sunbury Crab Company.

Ichabod and Anchoring Out

Early mornings in Melbourne are calm and still.

Melbourne Rowing Crew
Melbourne Rowing Crew

Ichabod

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 …

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Ichabod Marina sunset
Ichabod
Ichabod, Melbourne, FL

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.

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Fort Pierce Tugs
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4 guys fishing on a small boat.

From Cocoa Village to Daytona Beach, we marveled at the bridges.

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Mims
FortPierceBridge2
Fort Pierce
CocoaBridge for Musket
Cocoa Bridge – a moment of silence for Musket.  We miss you!
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Daytona Bridge

Anchoring Out

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!

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.

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Anchoring like a pro
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Butt Shot!
Long pants, warm socks, winter coat, shoes. Not the preferred attire for Capt. Rick.
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Sunrise from New Smyrna Beach

Not sure where we will head next – maybe St. Augustine, maybe another anchoring spot near Jacksonville.

Trawlerfest 2018 – Stuart, FL

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.

PleaseDoNotSit
Don’t even think about sitting here.

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!

The Great Loop Route
Let Mother Nature determine the schedule.
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Trevor Brice, Rick, Mary, and #8
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Trawlerfest 2018
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Stuart, Florida

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!

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2018 People’s Choice Award

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.

Storm
Storm Clouds

Next Stop:  Somewhere along the ICW, north of Stuart, weather permitting.

Waterfront views, ahhh, the life of a dog!

Where is your favorite bridge?  Perhaps several come to mind.

Ocean Blvd Bridge, Stuart FL
Ocean Blvd Bridge, Stuart FL
North Fork St. Lucie River
North Fork St. Lucie River

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?”

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Dog Tantrum

That’s right, I made a mess.  And no, I will not pick up my toys …

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Waterfront House for Bowser?

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.

Look for the 49′ North Pacific, in Slip 49.

 

 

Railway Lift or Guillotine?

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.

StLucie
Port Mayaca Railway lift bridge on the ICW

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.

A Village of BoatsTrucksRVs
Boats in the Parking Lot
Namaste
Namaste

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”

BlackMold
black mold
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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.

Hamburgers and an Eagle – Clewiston and Lake “O”

Should I stay or should I go?

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.

BurgersAtRolandAndMartin

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Roland and Martin, Clewiston

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!

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30′ American Wye Tug
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Slims Fishing Camp Swinging Bridge

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!

BaldEagle
Bald Eagle

Unveiling the AGLCA Flag!

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.

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Official White Flag Raised. Favorite Fish Shirt is ready to go!
LaunchPhoto
Celebrating the Launch of a Dream.
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Fort Denaud Swinging Bridge
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Opening Slowly
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Passing through
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The Admiral Enjoys Sunshine

And so it begins …

Journey notes.

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.

Watch Dog
A dog’s life.

ex·hale

eksˈhāl,ˈeksˌhāl/
verb
  • breathe out in a deliberate manner.
    “she sat back and exhaled deeply”

    The trawler:  North Pacific is based in Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA.