Sunday, June 30, 2013

Final Leg of Journey

June 28, 2013

I hate the Albemarle Sound.  I hated going across it from Elizabeth City to Ocracoke and I hated it today as we left Alligator River.  A quote from describes the experience perfectly.

The Albemarle Sound has the deserved reputation of sporting the roughest inland waters on the Eastern Seaboard. North Carolina’s two predominant wind directions, southwest and northeast, tend to funnel all the way up or down the sound’s entire length. Coupled with the relatively shallow depths (only about 15 to 18 feet along its mid-line), this long wind fetch often spawns short (close together), steep chop which can sometimes jar the fillings out of your teeth.

The waves this morning were forecasted at 1-2 feet, but were closer to three as we made our way up North. As we got hit from the chaotic waves, the boat leaned over a little too much for my comfort. Once again, we put on our life preservers and we put everything in the sink that was sitting out.  For the first time the whole trip, Bella was shaking too. I think this was worse than the storm yesterday because the rocking and rolling lasted so much longer.  Also, we had to be diligent on crab pot patrol.  We passed Ocean Music as we tried to find a way out of the turbulence. Our tug has better stability when we travel at a faster speed.  Finally, we entered the creek up to Coinjock. Everything was calm again.  Soon Ocean Music passed us as we slowed down. Sarah came up to the helm and helped me navigate. It was before noon and we decided not to stop in Coinjock.

We had been reading about the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge. reviews raved about the maintenance work. So we decided to head on up to that marina and get a haul out to have the repair work done on the rudder seal.  (7-16-2013 Update:  The rudder seal was replaced and the bilge is very, very dry!!!)  You can read more about it here:

It was another long day. We left Alligator River Marina by 7:45 and we made it to Great Bridge by 3:00.  It was above 90 degrees with no breeze as we pulled in.  Once I knew we were hauling out, I had about an hour to pack up everything. When we docked, we tossed everything out as quickly as possible to be able to get the boat hauled out before they closed. Sarah took Bella for a walk. Then we saw Rainshadow get lifted out of the water.  

Watching Rainshadow haul out
This is how our trip ended.  We waited a couple of hours until our older daughter, Kelsey,  could pick us up a bring us home.

The next day, Charlie and Kelsey went back to the boat to leave the rudder seal kit and close the boat.  They also worked on the white rubber streak on our hull from leaving Beaufort.  They were successful in buffing it out - with a lot of elbow grease I might add.

It was a good trip, we met wonderful people, experienced new places and learned a great deal about cruising!  We also grew more attached to our tug. She got us through some pretty hairy experiences, with a ton of help from Charlie.

I began writing this blog at the request of They just launched a new beautiful blog site.  Sometimes they post a story from my blog. But I am no journalist. This is hard work!  Take a look at the site. There are also professional journalists and good stories.

As a memento, Charlie created this track of our trip. The orange circles are all the places we stopped.

Intracoastal Waterway Trip June 2013

Storms in Alligator River

June 27, 2013
Around 8 am this morning, we left Oriental.  Charlie was not happy with the weather pattern.  Thunderstorms and strong winds were forecasted in the area over the next few days so he wanted to head north.  We considered skipping Belhaven and make the long trip to Alligator River. We planned to take the Virginia Cut back to Norfolk, since we had experienced the Dismal Swamp route going south.  We traveled through the chop of the Neuse River into the Bay River.  The canal after Bay River was very calm and we passed the fishing boats at Hobucken Marina on a hot, lazy day.  
  We crossed the Pamlico River, then the Pungo River and made the final decision to skip Belhaven and headed on to Alligator River Marina. The weather was windy, there was a small storm to the east, but all seemed fine on radar.  We entered the Alligator River/Pungo River Canal. This canal was also very calm and scenic.  Charlie and I began testing our speed at different RPM’s.  At certain RPM’s, the difference in speed is negligent and not gas efficient. We were trying to find the optimal RPM.  All of a sudden we felt a very strong jolt.  There is a famous saying about boaters: Either you run aground or you are lying.

Well, we are not lying.  We had run aground.  The one other time we ran aground, we needed a tow. This time, after measuring the depths around the boat, Charlie decided to use the bow thrusters to get Rainshadow moving again toward the center of the channel.  The head on current helped also.  It worked! So we continued up the canal. Soon, however, we lost all internet access. For a long time. We still had our charts, but no weather and no phone.  A few boats were passing us in the canal and one of them was Sorrento.  They called us on the radio to let us know they were passing, but for some reason we could not talk to each other.  But they passed with no issues.

Finally, we turned out of the canal into Alligator River and what we saw made our hearts sink. There was a large storm approaching and the water was very agitated.  The internet came back on and we pulled up the weather radar. 
Weather Radar
  Charlie said we had no choice. There was no way out of it, we were going to get caught in it.  Rainshadow was getting tossed around in the waves. We saw lightning hitting in front of us and we saw the storm front approaching fast.  I put a life preserver on myself, Bella and Sarah.  I brought a life preserver in the helm for Charlie. We had Sarah go into the berth which is a few steps below the helm, just in case we were hit by lightning.  She was reading a book (The Knife of Never Letting Go) and it would keep her mind off the storm.  I was desperately looking for the red markers and reading the chart to help Charlie stay on course while he battled the wind and waves. Every time we passed a marker, I yelled it out and  put a red sticky next to the marker number on the chart so I could remember the next marker number.  I wanted to get to that marina so bad!  The rain began to pour and we could not see anything in front of us, though the tugs radar would help us see what's ahead.  Items not put away were being thrown about the boat. We were trying to hold on as the boat was getting hit with waves.  I sent an email to my family that we were heading into a storm, but I did not want them to know how scared I was.  I felt like we should be telling someone else what was going on.   All of a sudden, I received a text from my admin at work.  I decided she would be the one I would communicate our location.   But I didn’t tell Charlie.   He radioed to the marina and the Alligator Swing Bridge that we were heading into the storm.   I kept searching for markers, letting him know when I saw one and then typing it into the phone. Here are screen shots the conversation with my admin.  I think it paints the picture quite well. My conversation is in the blue, she is in the gray. She is trying to calm my anxiety.

Thanks to Charlie’s expert handling, we made it through the storm and into Alligator River Marina, which as Sarah described it, is a car place in the front and a boat place in the back.  Already docked was Sorrento, who was also stuck in the storm.   Ocean Magic who we had met in Beaufort was also at the marina.

Once we secured our boat. We heard outside, “Bella!”  We looked outside and Sorrento’s dog had gotten loose. We guessed her name was Bella too.  She was a yellow labradoodle. She was running like the wind chasing birds and ignoring her owners. At one point, she headed to the highway.  Her owners went running down to the highway. I could only imagine their panic.  I saw her go around a small hill. So I went outside with a dog treat and called her name. She looked at me, looked at the birds and then decided I was a better bet. I grabbed her collar and all ended well. 

We were beat from the long trip and the storm.  The dockmaster told us we had to put our order in the grill in the station by 6:30 because they close by 8.  That was not problem.  We ate a good dinner and went to bed!

Alligator River Marina

Oriental, NC

June 26, 2013

This morning we headed to Oriental.  Right before we left, I met a woman who was cruising the Great Loop. She was on the trawler behind us, Ocean Magic.  They had started in Florida and were headed to the Great Lakes and then down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and back home to Florida.  I think she was missing home already.

We have been dealing with occasional water in our bilges since we bought Rainshadow. Water mainly gets into the aft bilge.  The bilge pump gets rid of most of it, but occasionally we have to manually eliminate the remainder.    Charlie rigged a hand held water pump with a garden hose and wired it to electricity to handle it.  This morning after discussing the issue with other tug owners and the manufacturer, there appears to be several contributors to the problem, mainly water coming through the swim platform door and possibly a bad rudder seal.  Tomco (makers of the American Tug) was very responsive and mailed the parts needed for the repair.   Other American Tug owners have very dry bilges, so we are optimistic this is something that can be fixed once we get back to home port.  (Update 7-16-2013:  The rudder seal was replaced and the bilge is very, very dry now!!)

The wind was blowing and the current was strong as we left Beaufort.   It was so strong, we hit the side of a dock as we were leaving. The dockmaster yelled, “Don’t worry!  It’s rubber..  you just have some white paint across your hull. It will buff out!”  I hope so.

Good bye Beaufort
As we waited for the bridge opening out of Beaufort, the dockmaster called us over the radio. He reminded us to not cut across to the intracoastal waterway because of the Shoal.  He said to go around it using the Russell Slough Channel, stay between the red over green marker and green 7 marker.  He said plenty of boats have grounded on the Shoal, eager to get to the intracoastal waterway.  We were very careful watching the markers as we made our way up the Adams Creek Canal to the Neuse River.  In the chart below, the intracoastal waterway is marked by the dashed lines.  We are entering from the bottom of the chart, following the yellow highlight. You can see why some boats jump over the shoal.

Watch the Shoal leaving Oriental!
The rest of the trip was very warm, but uneventful. 

Bella and Sarah Chilling in the Salon
 When we arrived at the Oriental Marina & Inn there were just a couple of boats in the marina.  I asked the dockmaster if the town was easy to bike around.  He scowled, “Of course it is. This town is just entering the 1970’s.”  Come to think of it, the marina does remind me of the 1970’s.  But, it had power, water, cable tv, a pool, very clean showers and bathrooms and  a restaurant.

Oriental Marina & Inn
After securing the boat, Charlie and Sarah went swimming while Bella and I took a walk.  As we headed back to Rainshadow, The  Polly P. docked next to us. The owners brought their two Boykin Spaniels – Frances and Catfish.  Bella was very happy as they all played together.  I was unfamiliar with the breed.  They explained that it was the official state dog for South Carolina and as you head south more people are familiar with it.  I looked it up on the computer because I forgot to take a picture.  So here is the picture I found when I googled “state dog of South Carolina.”

Boykin Spaniel
Charlie, Sarah, Bella and I decided to go bike riding through town. It was a short trip. There was a nice park on the Neuse River where we stopped to enjoy the view.  We bought delicious ice cream at the local coffee shop “Bean.”    While we ate our ice cream, we talked to a local group sitting on the front porch and then we headed back to get cleaned up for dinner.

When we came out of the boat for dinner, the marina was full of boats and they were having a party.  The New Bern Yacht Club had decided to get together in Oriental that day. Things were hopping in the restaurant when we had dinner.  Someone from the New Bern Club said, “Hi Cathy! “as I entered the restaurant.  I smiled and said “Hi” back so I didn't have to take time to explain that I was not Cathy.  I was hungry.  Our seafood platter was very satisfying.

After dinner, we enjoyed the evening with the owners of Polly P.  We toured each other's boats and then had a beer on top of Rainshadow. We shared our sea stories and our dreams.   They told Charlie about an attachment for the cordless drill that allows you to pump out water more easily than using the rigged pump. Charlie’s eyes lit up. I think it is now on his wish list.  They also gave us tips on good books. They highly recommended for Sarah to read “The Knife of Never Letting Go.”  I downloaded it on our Kindle for the trip tomorrow.  They suggested Charlie and I should read “Honey, Lets Get a Boat.”   When I googled it, this is what I read:

This is the story of a couple's travels on a forty-foot trawler cruising 6300 miles and 145 locks around the eastern part of North America known as America's Great Loop or the Great Circle Cruise. Their nautical ineptitude is evident from the beginning, but pulling from their personal and collective strengths, the authors overcome doubt, a lack of experience, and real and imagined horrors. The odyssey is told the way life hands out its adventures -- sometimes humorously, sometimes tragically, but always memorably.

I can totally relate. 

Rainshadow (in the middle) docked next to Polly P. (on the right)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hanging around Beaufort

June 25, 2013

We stayed another day in Beaufort.  First we visited the Maritime Museum, which was free.   The city promotes the museum for the relics discovered in the mid 1990’s from Blackbeard’s shipwrecked The Queen Anne’s Revenge. We were pleasantly surprised to find a great deal more. There is one section exhibit that is dedicated to the history of boats and Beaufort. Some of the model boats were exquisite in their detail.  

Early Dawn Three Model

The Silver Clipper -  full sized
Afterwards we took a bike ride around town and looked at the historic homes. It really is a nice part of town, but a little difficult to bike.  Charlie rode his bike in front, Sarah followed him and I followed Sarah.  At one point, Charlie decided to make a sharp turn to the right.   Sarah could not turn fast enough and her bike crashed to the street.  Sarah was a good sport, but her knee was scraped up.  We went back to Rainshadow to apply first aid.  Now we both sport matching bandaged knees!

That evening Sarah and I decided to bake some cookies.   While the cookies were in the oven, Charlie and I began talking with the boat owners of the boat docked beside us, Emerald Isle. The couple aboard live in Massachusetts and had taken their boat to Beaufort from Florida. They had more experience boating than us and gave us great advice.  We had a wonderful time speaking with them.  So wonderful of a time, that I burned the cookies.  I threw the batch out and tried cooking another batch.  Unfortunately, that batch burned too.  I finally figured out that I needed to move the tray to the middle rack.  I only had enough dough for three cookies by this point. So we put the cookies in the oven and kept our fingers crossed.  After 9 minutes, we had three perfectly baked cookies, enough for each one of us.

Emerald Isle next to Rainshadow
For dinner, we ate at a dockside restaurant again with Bella at our feet enjoying the Beaufort Breeze.

Storms to Beaufort

June 24, 2013

We had packed up the bikes and prepared the boat the night before so we were able to make a fast exit this morning from Ocracoke.  We tried to follow a ferry out of the channel, but it was too fast and it went outside the channel!  So we decided to take it slow and careful on our own. I used our binoculars to find the markers for Big Foot Channel while Charlie navigated Rainshadow.  Soon we were in the Pamlico Sound once more. The water was more turbulent than a couple of days before, but not bad. 

After about 2 hours, we saw a storm approaching.  We could see lightening in the distance.  Usually, we have two ipads on the helm with two different navigating apps  - one utilizing the US Marine app and the other using the Polar Navy app - the chart plotter and radar. Because the radar only reaches a few miles, it did not show the storm. We had left so fast this morning; we had not looked at the weather.  Now, we wanted to see a radar!  The ipad using US Marine lost a signal in the middle of the Pamlico sound, so we couldn't use that to look at the weather.   The PolarNavy app had lost a signal, but because it used charts already loaded, it was still monitoring our position appropriately so we did not want to use that ipad to look at the weather.  Charlie tried pulling up on his iphone, but the signal was not strong enough.  I had a later version of the iphone  and I was able to pull up  This is what we saw:
Approaching storm
  Yikes! We decided to slow down and let the storm pass.  Sarah and I put on our life jackets just in case things got bad.  Charlie estimated that we would only get some rain and that it would pass before we got there.  Just in case, I lowered the VHF antennae.  Charlie was right, except for rain, we missed the storm.   By the time we entered into Adam’s creek, the storm had passed and the water calmed down.  It was a beautiful ride into Beaufort. (North Carolina, not South Carolina.  This one is pronounced Bo-fort, with a long o.)

Helm gadgets to help us navigate through storms.
As we got close to Beaufort, we had to really pay attention to the markers.  There is a wicked current and the winds are strong.  We waited for the bridge to open (on the half hour) and went through to the docks.  At first, the dockmaster put us in a slip that was at the end of the marina,  a long walk to the bathrooms. But Charlie talked to him and we moved to the slips closer to the bathrooms.  After we docked, we  decided to divide and conquer the chores. I went to the Laundromat at the General Store and Sarah (my youngest) and Charlie washed off the boat.

Fresh Flowers along Beaufort's Boardwalk
At the General Store, I put three loads in the washers. While they cleaned, I walked the beautiful historic section of town.  By the time I got back to the Laundromat, the wash was done and I put the wet clothes into three dryers and sat down to wait.  I was the only other person there.  Soon after, though, a young woman and man entered the Laundromat.  They took their wet clothes from the washer and placed them on a table.  They were in a very animated discussion about our country’s gender identity crisis.   She did not like the pronouns “her” or “he”, but preferred “they.”  The young man said it did not matter to him.   He was a very colorful speaker and began saying things that made me uncomfortable.   I am not sure if it was the discussion, or the dryers, but sweat began dribbling down my neck and a wave of claustrophobia took a hold of me.  I kept wondering why they would not stop talking long enough to put their clothes in dryer.  I decided to check my dryers early, before the timers went off. The clothes were nice and dry, so I quickly threw them in the bag and offered the dryer to the couple. They accepted and thanked me.  I made a quick exit and headed to Rainshadow, contemplating some of the issues that were discussed in the Laundromat and vowing to be more tolerant of difference in the future.  

That night, we went to a restaurant on the boardwalk. The town is very dog friendly and Bella was able to sit with us outside on the deck enjoying the warm Beaufort breeze.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spotted: New Grady White 37 dual console

June 24, 2013

Today we woke up at 5:30 to leave early. We were headed to Beaufort  and we wanted to beat the afternoon winds.  As we were leaving, someone came up to us and pointed to the Grady White behind us.  “That is the brand new 37 foot dual console – not on the market yet.  It is being test driven by Mr. Grady White, himself – David Neese.”   The boat had been docked right beside us and we had noticed many admirers nodding appreciatively as they circled the vessel.  But the marina is full of beautiful Grady Whites and the boaters who handled the 37 foot Grady White seemed to be enjoying their day just like everyone else.  We did not understand the importance yesterday. But now we did.  I took a photo as we left.

New 37 foot Grady White

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fishing in Ocracoke

June 23, 2013
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Anchorage Marina is busy with charter fishing boats. This afternoon, the charter, Gecko, came into dock and unloaded their catch.  A large yellow fin tuna was the prize.
Gecko charter boat
I guess it is a little unusual to catch a yellow fin tuna that large.  The Gulfstream is so close to Ocracoke that they tend to catch some large fish.  Charlie has been impressed. He is now planning a trip to Ocracoke via the Ferry   He thinks he could do it in a day.  I heard the whooping and hollering on dock so I went down to see what was going on.  By the time I got to the deck, the young son of the gentleman who caught the tuna was dragging that prize all over the dock. He was a strong fella!

Yellow fin tuna
We investigated the island on our bikes today.  There is a paved, large bike path to the Hatteras Park beaches on the island.  While we sat enjoying the beach, we talked to a nice woman who lived part of the year on Manteo and part of the year on Ocracoke.  I asked her which she liked better, but she couldn’t decide.  What a life!  On the way back, we stopped by the Ocracoke lighthouse, which is not open to the public, by the way.  But it does present a nice photo op.

Ocracoke lighthouse
We shared a delicious ice cream at Sweet Tooth and then went to the museum dedicated to the pirate Blackbeard.  The nice woman let us take Bella in for the short video presentation.  Blackbeard’s real name was Edward Teach.  He was born in Bristol,  England and historians think he may have come from a wealthy family because, unlike other pirates, he could read and write.  He was captured, killed and beheaded aboard his ship in Ocracoke.  The order  to capture Blackbeard came from the governor of Virginia, Spotswood.  Royal Navy Lieutenant Maynard was chosen to lead the mission.

On November 22, 1718, the heated battle took place. Maynard’s two ships, Jane and Ranger, were both fired upon by Blackbeard. Ranger was badly damaged and several of Maynard’s crew died instantly. When Jane was hit, Maynard instructed his crewmen to go below and the entire ship took on the illusion of death. In the smoke and fire of battle, Blackbeard was fooled into leading a charge aboard Maynard’s vessel. Maynard and his men surprised the pirates and proceeded to cut them down one by one. After suffering twenty-five stab wounds and five bullets from the vicious battle, Blackbeard died. 

Blackbeard's last battle

Our little Blackbeard
In the afternoon, we enjoyed music by a local band The Dye Wells. We think she sounds a little like Amy Winehouse.

Cruising to Ocracoke

June 22, 2013
This morning we headed to Ocracoke. We left out of Shallowbag Bay and headed for Roanoke Sound and then over to Old House Channel.  

Bridge over Roanoke Sound
  We passed several islands, one must have been a bird sanctuary.  I snapped some pictures, but they were pretty far away, so I did not post the picture. I have been using my i-phone to snap the videos and pictures and editing them as well. It works most of the time, but not for evening or distance, unfortunately.

 The water had a very light chop and was not bad at all.   We just had to watch out for the sports fisherman who came barreling by us on our port side with no warning.  Once we got out in the Palmico Sound, the water became a little rougher.  There were a few showers, but not another boat in sight.  As we approached the inlet into Ocracoke and Silver Lake, we began monitoring the Ferry traffic to understand the channel.  The Waterwide Guide and Active Captain warn that the Channel – Big Foot Slough Channel - is deep, but shoals often. They advise to watch the markers, because they may be different than the charts.  We also were watching the Ferry traffic because we heard you don’t want to be in the Channel if a Ferry needs to pass.  So after we felt we had an opening between the Ferry traffic, we entered the channel and  watched the markers carefully.  We made the sharp turn to port after passing south of the junction red over green marker.

Turn into Silver Lake

Silver Lake is very protected. We were staying at Anchorage Marina which is right next to the Ferry harbor. The dockmaster, Mike Leombruno, and his crew quickly got us tied up in a slip. This marina handles fishing charter boats every day, so they are very efficient.

Silver Lake at Anchorage Marina


That night we bought fresh seafood (flounder and tuna) from a local store a short walk away and cooked it with some pasta.  Then we sat on the top deck of Rainshadow and enjoyed the evening.  The area is a hopping place. The ferry dock was busy loading and unloading the cars a few times a day, the charter fishing boats were unloading the catch, measuring, weighing and cleaning. At the same time, the restaurant on the dock was serving food and live entertainment. And the small street by the dock was being shared by cars, bikes and golf carts.  All existing in quiet, laid back harmony.

Bella waiting for the right moment

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last day in Manteo

June 21, 2013
This was our last day in Manteo and it has been a lazy day.  The National Sailing Association departed leaving some slips open. So the boat that was behind us, Splashdown, moved to a t- head.  Shortly after they left, a boat that made the trip from Suffolk pulled in behind us.  As soon as they docked, almost everyone in the boat went running to the bridge to jump off.  They said it was a tradition to dock at Manteo and jump off the bridge.  According to the locals, the signs designating possible unsafe water are old and the water has been tested and is safe but the regulators won’t let them take the signs down. At any rate, it appears everyone is surviving and having a blast.

We were visited by Chrissy from animal control and she took a report and said they would handle the situation. Apparently the dog that bothered us yesterday has been a problem in the past. After that, we pedaled our bikes to the grocery store to stock up on a  few provisions and then Charlie tested the dingy motor and we took a short ride down the creek in it.  Everything worked fine, but it is an immense amount of work to get the dingy on and off the davits. There has to be a better way, but we are not going to worry about that today.

Lighthouse on our way to the grocery

I took some photos of the town because we enjoyed it so much. We had a flight of beer at the Full Moon Brewery which was a tiny spot, but very cozy and very good.

Full Moon Brewery

We ate at Poor Richards restaurant which is right on the dock.  It serves breakfast and lunch at the dock entrance and dinner at the pub entrance off the street.  We ate a delicious breakfast and dinner there. For dinner we shared a grilled chicken salad and hamburger.  It was a good meal and I would highly recommend it!  BEWARE of sitting in the first table on the left for breakfast, however. There is a local  who has staked claim to it.  She became very agitated when another customer began to sit at that table the morning we ate breakfast there.  
Poor Richards Restaurant

In the evening, we were met by our kids who drove down for the night. The youngest was joining us for the rest of the trip. We sat on top of Rainshadow watching the sunset with a full moon in the background. A ghost tour was being led along the boardwalk with the leader holding a swinging light.  It was a splendid way to spend our last day on Roanoke Island.

Evening on Rainshadow

Friday, June 21, 2013

Another day in Manteo

June 20, 2013
Today was a windy, cool day. The marina is full of boats.  There is a group from the National Sailing Association and this afternoon a few boats from the Hampton Yacht Club pulled in from their Intracoastal Waterway trip.  The marina was so full, they decided to dock a large boat right behind us. They had to run the electrical across our boat to get to the dock.  

New view from stern
The couple aboard the ship were very friendly and Charlie and the captain started sharing technology tips.  They both like to get up to date information on shoaling and other cruising info for the waterways (including marinas and anchorage).   Activecaptain integrates into other tools as well. Charlie like to use the navypolar app  (in the app store it is called Polarview MX)  for a complimentary tool. Activecaptain is integrated into that tool.   The icons of flags can be clicked on to show marina ratings/info, the yellow cross skull is a hazard warning for shoaling, the green anchors are anchorage ratings/info.  We can click an icon and it will place our boat on the map and as we move the boat, our boat moves with the map.  The captain of the boat behind us said he uses the Garmin app on his ipad. He said you have to buy the charts, but it allows you to only load the charts you need. 

  Charlie also like the MarineUS app for the ipad and iphone.  A picture of that app is below.

It is a simple app, but the gps works well.  Our boat is the red dot.  We like to chart our trips and then take a picture from MarineUS using the ipad/iphone screen capture.   

We decided to go to Festival Park today which has a nice pedestrian walkway right beside the Manteo Waterfront Marina where we are docked.  We took Bella with us and it turned out to be a very nice park.  It has a history museum and a replica of the Elilzabeth II.   
Elizabeth II replica
We decided instead, to walk on the free path that follows the coastline of the small island park.  There is a nice stage on the water that hosts concerts on the lawn during the summer.  It was a quiet, pretty park. We decided we could walk Bella in the morning and the evening.  Even though the history center has hours 9-5, the park seems to be open all the time.
Festival Park Path
View from park path
Afterwards, we opted to take a bike ride down the bike path again.  The tourist information stated that the largest scuppernong grapevine (said to date to the 1500’s) on the island can be found on Mother Vineyard Road.  The literature reads,  “a delightful detour from the main path.. beautiful and serene."  We put Bella in her basket and biked to the detour.  We turned on Winery Rd from Mother Vineyard Road and decided it was so quiet that I could let Bella run beside our bikes on leash so she would get some exercise. Charlie was ahead of me and Bella chased him while I held on to her.  All was going well until we passed a home that had two loose dogs at the end of a driveway. I looked to my right and the dogs were charging me at full speed, barking viciously.  I yelled to Charlie who was around the bend, stopped my bike and straddled the bar still holding the leash for Bella.   I saw a lady come running down the driveway after her dogs.  In a split second, I had to make a decision. I could not get to Bella fast enough, but I was afraid to let her go because if she ran and they chased her, it could be fatal. In the next moment, one of the dogs took a hold of Bella’s back and bit her while tossing her aside and then going in for the kill.  All I could do was lunge my body at the dog and scream a very high pitch “NO!” – falling to the pavement with the bike still straddled between my legs.  I was expecting a blood bath, but my scream seemed to scare him .  He crouched down and looked me straight in the eye as I was now sprawled on the pavement right next to him.  The lady pulled him away.  Charlie came running up at that moment and picked Bella up and put her in the basket of the bike.  He helped me get up and detangle myself from the bike.  I went over to Bella. She wouldn’t let us touch her. She screamed and growled when we tried to check the wound. She was very scared and traumatized.   The lady put her dogs away and came to us. She said I was hurt and pointed to me knee. I looked down at my knee and it was scraped up pretty bad. Blood was rolling down.  She said she was so sorry and that I should have kicked the dog.  She asked me to come up to house so she could clean me up.  I stayed outside while she went in the house. She came out with a wash cloth and some bandage. I decided against the bandage. I asked her what was wrong with her dog. She said she didn’t know. She said that he does that to dogs on leashes. She has been working with him, but it doesn’t seem to be getting better. I told her he was vicious. She told me he had all his shots and she gave me her name and phone number. Charlie took a picture of the house in case we needed the address.

Bella was calmer by then and we checked her over. Unbelievably, she was not bleeding.  In fact, we couldn’t find the wound. I was in worse shape than she was.  We biked back to the boat with Charlie handling Bella in the basket. Soon we passed the Manteo police department and a policeman was sitting in his car.  We talked to him about the incident and he said it was not their territory, it was the sheriff’s territory and he gave us the non emergency number. Then he said, “But should I call an ambulance? You seem to be hurt pretty bad.”  I looked down at my knee and it was a bloody mess. But I really didn’t think it was a very deep wound, so I declined.  We got back to the boat and Charlie helped me clean the wound and put a bandage on it.  He biked to a pharmacy and purchased more hydrogen peroxide and bandages.    Charlie was very worried and suggested we cancel the boat trip.  But I really felt like I would be ok.  We then called the non emergency number, but they told us to call spca/animal control in the morning. (We just want to make sure the dog attack was on record.) 
Knee injury next day
Update:  In the morning Charlie called the SPCA.  They knew all about the story already. (Wow, communication is fast in a small town.)  They said they knew the lady with the dogs and she had posted the incident on Facebook.  She described her dog as “misbehaving” again.  They told us that the dogs had their shots and they have had problems with them before.

So much for a peaceful, serene detour.  Saturday  we head for Ocracoke.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day two Manteo

June 19, 2013
We decided to stay in Manteo a few days.  I did a load of laundry at the marina and realized I should have brought quarters.  The wash was $1.50 and the dryer $1.00.  Charlie took a bike ride to Wells Fargo and brought back a roll of quarters for future washings.

We have been eating breakfast and lunch on the boat and enjoying dinner out.  This morning we had scrambled eggs and I made a strawberry banana smoothie in our new Bella Rocket.  It turned out well. After the laundry and breakfast, we put Bella in the crate and this time cabled tied ALL the zippers.  We decided to take a bike ride on the bike path that runs the length of Roanoke Island.  When you first leave Manteo, it is a narrow sidewalk, but after a few blocks it turns into a well paved bike path.  We were headed to Airport road to visit the aquarium which sits on Croatan Sound on the west side.  We soon found out that the bike path does not take you up Airport road.  We were forced to bike on a low shoulder road that had a posted 35 mile per hour speed limit.  Up to this point, the residents had been very courteous to us.  On airport road however, traffic was heavy and the cars were surpassing the speed limit and apparently did not have the time to wait for on coming traffic before passing us.  It was very scary.  We wondered where all the traffic was headed. The road only led to the aquarium and the airport.  Certainly everyone was not going to the airport.
When the road made a sharp left turn, we got off our bikes and walked them. The road was very curvy and we were afraid some crazy person was going to knock us off.  As we approached the aquarium, we found out where all the cars were headed.  The crazy drivers were not residents, but tourists. It was a cooler and overcast day. Everyone decided the aquarium was a good spot for the day.   The line appeared long to enter, but it moved quickly. The price for an adult was $8.00.  It was crowded, but we enjoyed ourselves.  The best tank was the last one which had several large sharks.  In fact, there was a poster that advertised you could spend $195 to swim with the sharks.  No thanks.
Shark tank on Roanoke Island
After confirming with aquarium management there were no alternate routes back to the marina, we walked our bikes around the curves of the road and then biked to the path. We made it back uninjured and Bella was still in her crate when we arrived!  I guess we just need to sacrifice a cable tie each time we leave her in the crate.  After lunch, we put Bella in my bike basket and we traveled the boardwalk until Marsh Light Marina.  Then we took a neighborhood road and I let Bella run and pull my bike as she chased Charlie’s bike which was in the lead.  Soon the road turned to a sidewalk and Bella went back into the basket. We followed the sidewalk to Stripers Bar and Grill on Bay Club Drive.  They have a happy hour special each day from 3:30 to 5:30 which includes a different drink special each day and half price crab legs and shrimp.    The special was our dinner.  We ate out back on the deck and Bella stayed with us. They even offered her a bowl of water.  It was windy on the point, but we were protected against the building.

Bella taking a bike ride to dinner
We went home and Charlie watched game four of the Stanley Cup finals and I worked on the blog.  Tomorrow we will visit Festival Park which has a walkway right next to the Marina.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Elizabeth City to Manteo

June 18, 2013
The next morning, we woke at 5:45 AM and got the boat ready to cross the Albemarle Sound to Manteo. Charlie researched the wind and wave forecast which predicted one foot waves. However, when we got out in the sound, the waves became chaotic and sometimes were 2- 3 feet. It seems that since the sound is relatively shallow, the waves can get kicked up with even a small breeze.  The worst part, however, were the tons of crab pots that we had to maneuver around!  The waves made it even more difficult to calculate.  It caused us to be very alert as we constantly weaved in and out all away across the sound.  Eventually, we could see our path to Manteo and we called around 11:30 AM to Manteo Waterfront Marina to reserve a slip. The dockmaster warned us to be careful coming into Shallowbag Bay due to the shoals.  He said he updated Active Captain with the situation.   We made it in with no problems and docked at the waterfront.  Manteo lies due west of and close to the OuterBanks of North Carolina.  It is most known for the first settlers who landed on Roanoke Island  in 1587 and produced the first child born in the New World – Virginia Dare.  Additionally, these settlers disappeared and went down in history as “The Lost Colony.”  But modern day Manteo is a beautiful, historic town, with a wooden boardwalk that winds around the shore. The amenities at the Marina were perfect. After getting the boat secure, we filled up our water tank using our new RV water filter which attached to the hose and filtered the water before it went into the tank. We cleaned out our bilges with a Turkey Baster (much easier than a manual bilge pump when it is a small amount of water) and then we rode our bikes to the Piggly Wiggly to pick up some orange juice and salt.  Bella rode in my basket and was quite happy she was not being left aboard the boat.   The previous four times we locked her in her crate on this trip, we would return to Rainshadow with Bella greeting us at the cockpit door.  She hated being left on the boat and she would wiggle her way out of the crate somehow.  When we returned from the grocery and before we left for dinner, we decided to cable tie all but one of the zippers closed.  While eating a delicious dinner at Ortega’z Mexican Restaurant, Charlie and I wondered if Bella would be able to figure out how to get out of the crate this time.  Perhaps we finally had the upper hand.   Wrong.  Bella was at the door, happy to see us return. Anyway, no damage was done. We ended the day on top of Rainshadow watching kids jump into the water from the bridge that goes over to the Lost Colony historical site. They were having a blast, while the parents watched from the boardwalk right next to a sign that read, “Swimming can be dangerous"…I guess wearing out the kids so they slept that night took precedence over any associated  health consequences.
Rainshadow docked in Manteo

Jumping and Swimming

Ignoring the cautions

Deep Creek to Elizabeth City

June 17, 2013
We woke up bright and early at 6:00 AM.  Bella needed a walk, so Charlie took Bella out and I cut up some strawberries for our Honey Nut Cheerio breakfast. We had set the coffee pot the night before, so it was brewing already.  After breakfast, we very easily left the dock and headed back north to make the turn toward the south into Deep Creek.  We needed to be at the Deep Creek locks by 8:30 opening. The chart books say that there is anchorage and tie up at the docks.  So we figured if we got there a little early, we would be ok. On the way, we passed about 6 large Benetau sailboats heading north. They were docking at near the mouth of Deep Creek.  We quickly reached the locks, which were closed. I wondered out loud where the sailboats had come from since 8:30 AM was the first opening.  After calling in to the dockmaster, we waited for instruction. First the dockmaster told us we would pull in on the starboard side and to have a long line on the bow and stern. He recommended fenders.  While Charlie maintained position, I put the lines and fenders on.  In about 10 minutes he called back and said he had six sailboats from the Benetau Boat Club coming into the lock also.  He needed to load them in from the starboard side which would push us to the front of the lock. He said when the water rushes in the boat will rise 8 to 10  feet and it could be quite a ride the closer to the front of the lock you are.  He asked if we would prefer to be port. We agreed and I changed the lines and fenders to port side.  I was a little worried how I was going to handle the lines and throw them up 8-10 feet and around a piling inside the lock. But the dockmaster, Robert, made it easy.   As Charlie pulled Rainshadow up to the port side, Robert, had a long boat hook. He took the line from my hands and easily placed it around  the piling.  I was told to hold the line at the bow and Charlie would hold the line in the stern. While we were waiting for the sailboat club, we secured the lines. 

Soon we saw the sailboats arrive.  One sailboat went up front on starboard, and three went behind that one. Then all of a sudden, a fifth came barreling up between us and another sailboat. The dockmaster yelled to Charlie, “Captain, defend your ship!” Charlie ran over to the starboard side of Rainshadow, ready for a collision. All of a sudden the sailboat put on the bow thrusters and expertly averted a  collision. The dockmaster said he was never so glad to see bow thrusters.  That same sailboat tied up to the sailboat next to us, so we were three abreast.  One more sailboat tied abreast to another behind us.  Once we were all in, the dockmaster explained that when he lets the water in, the boats in the front will have to work the stern lines aggressively to avoid the bows going into the sides of the locks and for the boats to not hit each other.  As the water came in, I videotaped on Vine and posted it.  I like using Vine because it has stop motion capability which was perfect for this very unique experience.  At one moment I was staring up at the dockmaster and a few minutes later, I was at eye level.
The Deep Creek Lock

Afterwards, the dockmaster stepped up to picnic table and gave us a brief history lesson on the Canal. George Washington built the canal 30 years before he became President.  He wanted to harvest the timber.  His crew built the canal by hand – from mile 7 to mile 23.  It is sometimes called Washington’s Ditch.  He cautioned us that while the sailboats need to worry about depth, they equally have to worry about logs and their masts hitting the canopies of trees.  Then the dockmaster blew a Conch to announce the opening of the lock.  After the last sailboat was through the lock, he somehow got to the bridge in front of us and opened that bridge as well.  We led the Benetau Club down Washington’s Ditch to the visitor center. We planned to spend an hour there and then head to the South Mill’s lock for the 3:30 opening.  Apparently, that was the Benetau’s plans also. So we figured we would have to line up in the same fashion in that lock. However, the depth is being lowered in that lock. We were all novices, unsure what that would entail.  As it turned out, this lock was a lot easier.  There was no rushing water or sterns of boast crashing against the side of the locks as their bows broke away.  After the water lowered about 8 feet,  we took off leading the six Benetaus to Elizabeth City, about 18 miles.

Benetaus and Rainshadow at Visitors Center
A storm was approaching and it looked wicked on the radar with rain, thunder and lightning.  As we began to meander down Turner’s Cut to the Pasquotank River, the rain began to fall. Charlie and I were glad from one perspective; our boat was being washed off from the salt water. But we were concerned about the lightning.  Additionally, we began to see submerged logs.  I radioed to alert the Benetaus as we passed each one.  The only visible part was the very top of them sticking out of the water, there are no markers and at some points the cut was so tight, you had to take a chance on depth. There was no relaxing on this part of the trip.  Everyone had to be alert. The good news, though, was  no one hit ground or a log and the storm ended up being a non event.

The Pasquotank River was beautiful after the rain. We went right through the swinging bridge at Lamb’s Marina. Not only was the bridge open, the tender’s hut was boarded up.  We knew we would not make the 5:30 opening of the Elizabeth City bridge, so we called the bridge tender and found out it would open on demand all night starting at 6 pm. That fit into our schedule perfectly. At 6 we radioed the tender and all of us sailed through into Elizabeth City.  The sailing vessels went to Mariner’s Wharf which is free but we decided to go to The Pelican Marina because we wanted Electricity and water. The cost was $35 no matter what size.   After docking however, we wondered if we made the right decision. Unfortunately, the Pelican Marina was on a busy road and the on the side of the bridge away from downtown.  By the time we crossed the bridge and got into downtown, most everything was closed.  In fact, many of the buildings were in disrepair or being sold.  The couple of restaurants open did not have seating outdoors for dogs.  So we went back to the boat and made dinner at home.  Tomorrow we would head to Manteo.