Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Myrtle Beach, SC, to Hampton, VA

We arrived in Myrtle Beach on Saturday, April 26. We had reservations at the Osprey Marina for over a week while we visited with family and friends. Osprey was a great place and we had a beautiful view from the boat...

The night after we arrived we met with our long-time-friends Linda and Joe Conner...and Janet and Jim Hesser. Janet, Joe, Linda and Wayne were all in high school together in Athens, TN. We had a great time! We're going to try and meet up with them next year this time in Myrtle Beach.

The Bimini Oyster Bar was a real hit with this group...and Joe dressed for the event!

Wednesday, April 30, Dave, Heather and Alex came to Myrtle Beach. They had booked a condo at the Caribbean Resort oceanfront Myrtle Beach where there were all kinds of pools for Alex to enjoy. This was a special trip for them because it would be the first time Alex would experience the ocean. We were all wondering how he'd take to it. Well, he loved the point that he would bolt for the water after feigning play in the sand! Here are some of the MANY pictures we took that week...

Alex found out that pockets could hold treasures!

...And pepperoni pizza is goo-o-d!

We had a wonderful time running around with them for the next few days. One day Heather and I took Alex to a zoo just down the street from the marina (ah...don't ask.) Alex loved the Lemurs!! Here's his "Lemur Dance."

On Saturday, May 3, my sister Nadine and her husband, Jerry, came to join us for a visit and to travel with us north of Myrtle Beach. We had a good mini-family reunion that Saturday and all enjoyed dinner from Phillips Seafood.

Sunday morning, May 4, we left Myrtle Beach and headed for Southport, SC.

The trip was definitely eventful! First we had to weave our way through the Rock Pile (rocks just underwater on either side of the channel). Then we found ourselves at the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge. The bridge opens on the half hour...provided there's enough water for the pontoon to move. We got there at 1:40...low tide. The bridge didn't open until 3:40. We anchored, along with several other boats, and relaxed!

That evening we docked at Southport City Marina, a great marina.

We had carry-out seafood from the Provision Company and called it a day.

The next morning, May 5, Nadine, Lucy and I took a nice walk around downtown Southport before we left. We had about a 50-mile day planned up to Surf City, NC. (Cue the Jan and Dean lyrics now...) We spotted some dolphins on the trip and I was just telling Jerry and Nadine about the times when they've come along side the boat and "run" with us for a while...when they did just that! It really is a pretty exciting thing! Nadine and Wayne met on the bow to discuss ...the weather.

We wound up getting to the Surf City Swing Bridge about 30 mins., again, we anchored and waited it out.

Fortunately our marina for the night, the Beach House Marina, was right next to the bridge on the north side. Beach House Marina is very small...about 10-12 slips. We had just tied up when the rains came. We ordered Dominos Pizza and made ourselves "to home."

Tuesday, May 6 - Our last full day with Nadine and Jerry was to take us to Beaufort, NC. Nadine, Lucy and I again took a nice walk that morning...this time on Surf City Beach. We were naturally drawn to check out the sand for any sharks teeth that might have washed up (we have vacationed at Edisto Beach, SC, for years and have honed our teeth-hunting skills there.) No teeth, but we did find some gorgeous stones.

We got into Beaufort around 3:30PM, in time to take a walk around downtown before the rain set in and check out the restaurant menus. We decided on the Net House Restaurant and had a great meal there.

Nadine and Jerry had planned to rent a car in Beaufort and let me drive them to New Bern on Wednesday morning to pick up a one-way rental at the airport. Nadine spotted an ad that evening advertising a ride to local airport. She checked it out and they ended up getting a ride to New Bern for about the same money.

Wednesday, May 7 - We walked out with Jerry and Nadine to the town clock in Beaufort and waited on their ride. The no-seeums were thick! Shortly after 8 AM they left us and made their way towards New Bern and home.

Segue needed some work done, so we left Beaufort that morning and headed back to Morehead City and Taylor Boat Works. Diane and Louis Wade kindly showed us around their second home, Morehead City, and we visited their waterfront home on Atlantic Beach.

Friday, May 9, we picked up a rental car and drove to Raleigh for Heather's graduation weekend. Heather was receiving a PhD in biomedical engineering at Duke. We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Capitol Blvd. and put Lucy in a kennel. We had a wonderful weekend! Heather's parents, Tommy and Brenda Ledbetter, flew in on Friday evening for the event. We had a great time visiting with them and with Dave, Heather and Alex. On Saturday evening we all attended the "hooding ceremony" and the reception following. Alex did great! He was up about 2 hours past his bedtime, but was good for the entire time. We are so proud of Heather!!

Sunday, May 11, Brenda and Tommy flew back to Huntsville, AL. Wayne and I enjoyed keeping Alex while Heather and Dave went to receive her diploma and celebrate the occasion that afternoon.

Monday, May 12, Wayne and I left Raleigh and made our way back to Morehead City and Segue. We felt like the boat work wouldn't be done until Tuesday...and we were almost right. Actually it was Wednesday, May 14, before we were ready to pull out of the boat yard.

We really became fond of the people there. John, the boat yard manager, and his crew....and our "next door neighbor" in the yard, Tim.

The boat yard is located on the Peletier Creek in Morehead City and this is our view from the boat yard...

On the way out of town we stopped at Geer Oil for fuel...then made our way to Oriental, NC, and the Oriental Marina.

The trip to Oriental was easy. We had dolphins swimming off the sides of the boat for part of the way. We pulled into Oriental Marina at around 5:00. The docking was a challenge because the slip was narrow...but Wayne pulled it off in only 2 tries. We'd been to this marina/motel by car before and knew it was a friendly place. Tomorrow Linda and Jon Efteland will join us for a couple of nights and a cruise on Friday to Belhaven, NC.

Thursday, May 15 - We had some cleaning up to do! A week (or more) in a boat yard... We were through by around 3PM and were glad to see Linda and Jon arrive at around 8:30PM. We ordered "peel and eat" shrimp from the Toucan Restaurant at the Marina and caught up with our friends. Having checked the weather for Friday we altered plans. It was going to be windy and rainy. We decided to wait in Oriental until Saturday and let Linda and Jon take Friday to tour Ocracoke.

Friday, May 16 - Jon and Linda left at 8AM for their day out. Wayne and I worked on boat-related projects, took a bike ride around town, napped, and did some reading.

Saturday, May 17 - After Linda and I took Lucy for a quick walk down by the waterway, we left Oriental and headed out north into the ICW. It was a beautiful day! Linda and Jon both took turns driving...

and when she wasn't driving, Linda was working on needlework...and laughing at my antics over bugs coming into the bridge area!

Belhaven Waterway Marina was our destination, having been recommended by a friend we met at the Looper conference, Dave Bowers. We arrived in Belhaven around 1:30PM. After tying up Linda and Jon walked over to get their car while we registered and walked Lucy. Then we went in search of lunch. Not a hard task since there was only one restaurant open at 2 PM (besides Hardees)...Back Bay Cafe. Boy, were we lucky! We all enjoyed gourmet lunches! Back Bay Cafe is owned and operated by a couple who have an adjacent book store and wine shop, Wine & Words.

While we were finishing up on lunch Dave Bowers came in and joined us. Jon and Linda left us at the restaurant and resumed their tour of the Outer Banks.

Dave took us out to see his boat (he and his wife, Betty, are starting the Loop in a couple of weeks) and his home in Belhaven. That evening we four went to the Oyster Bar in town and had dinner.

Belhaven was a really is a nice little marina!

The owners, Brenda and Les, have a miniature schnauzer named "Marina." Marina was a tad suspicious of Lucy (and visa versa)...but Lucy did have a good time romping on the large, green lawn with several other dogs.

Sunday, May 18 - Alligator River Marina, near the Albemarle Sound, was our destination this day. The trip was mostly calm...except for the last little bit on the River when the wind started whipping around and the water got choppy.

When we turned to go into the marina, the "beam seas" gave us a good beating!

Alligator River Marina is a small the middle of nowhere. If we did this trip again we would stay elsewhere.

Monday, May 19 - We were crossing the Albemarle Sound that day to reach the Dismal Swamp. The sound is known for being a rough body of water, so we were looking at the weather closely. The weather sounded about par for the sound: 2-3 ft. waves and winds 10-15 mph.

We left out with several other boats that morning. Many of them came back. We weren't crazy about the marina and didn't look forward to an extended we decided to check out the waves for ourselves. They tossed us around, no doubt! They seemed 2-3 with some 4's thrown in. But...we felt it was do-able. Little did we know that crossing the sound would be the easiest thing in the course towards Elizabeth City and our destination, the Dismal Swamp Canal!

We rocked and rolled, but had prepared for that. What we hadn’t prepared for came on the other side (right about the time we thought we were near “safe”) and we started up the Pasquotank River to Elizabeth City. The wind kicked up (seemed to us like 20-25 with gusts to 30) and the 3 and 4 ft. waves were coming directly on our bow. The wind was the scary thing. We’re so high in the water...we were wondering if our canvas covering would hold up! But it held up, as did we.

Were we ever glad to be over that part of the trip!! At last we were in the river channel headed for the Dismal Swamp. And this part of the Pasquotank was some of the prettiest river landscape we've seen on the trip. The wind was still cropping up occasionally, but nothing like it was earlier. We made it to the South Mills Lock at the bottom of the Dismal Swamp for the 11:00 opening. There were two sailboats going through the lock with us, "Nice and Easy" and "Etude."

This was the first lock we'd been into on the Atlantic Coast! The lock only went up 8 ft....not much by TVA standards. The dockmaster assisted us with the tie up... a stern and a bow line to posts on the dock. Then we held onto the lines and took up the slack as the boat came up. After the lock opened, the lockmaster jumped in his truck and drove to the South Mills Bridge, a few yards beyond the lock, so he could open THAT and let us through to the Dismal Swamp.

The Dismal Swamp Canal is the oldest artificial waterway in the United States, officially opened in 1805. It's very shallow (it used to carry flat boats) and in the past 12 months has been closed because of too little water. The canal is maintained to keep a depth of 6 ft., but it's so narrow that fallen trees are often the hazard you'll come across while in the canal. Wayne has been looking forward to this section of the trip because he had read that George Washington did the surveying on the canal.

We stayed that night at the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center, tied up to a free dock. The welcome center is located on Hwy. 17 at the VA/NC state line. It's the only state welcome center that welcomes both cars and boats. We got there with "Nice and Easy" and "Etude"...and there was already a catamaran on the dock, "Ming."

The sailboats rafted up together and we all settled in for the evening. Visitors came by and chatted during that late afternoon and we took a walk on one of the trails nearby. After the Albemarle ordeal we were absolutely beat! By 8 PM we were headed to bed...and we slept until around 7 AM.

Tuesday, May 20 - The smell of honeysuckle greeted us this morning. This was one of our most enjoyable dockings on the trip! The weather was a little rainy as we left the welcome the Swamp really did look "dismal."

We pulled out at about 8:45 AM, after the other boats had already left. We needed to make 18 miles to the Deep Creek Lock by the next opening time, 11:30. Traveling on the Dismal Swamp is at "no wake speed," which means instead of our usual 10 mph we would be making around 7 mph. We made it just fine.

When we reached Deep Creek Lock our new friends on "Nice and Easy," "Etude," and "Ming" were there already.
There's a bridge before this lock and we waited for the bridge to be opened before we could access the lock. The other boats let us go through first since we would likely travel at a faster pace than they would.

Having gone through the lock we were then out of the Swamp and headed for Norfolk and our night's destination...the Downtown Hampton Public Piers. Would you believe we had another "bridge incident?" The railroad bridge right before Gilmerton Bascule Bridge is normally open. This day, however, it was stuck in the closed position for maintenance. When we got to the bridge there were about 8 boats already circling the area, waiting for the bridge to open. We followed their pattern and waited about a half an hour before the bridge lifted. Schedule, schmedule!

The Norfolk/Portsmouth area is incredibly busy. There are US Naval shipyards everywhere and security is very obvious.

We arrived at Hampton just before a storm set in. The view from our slip is wonderful...and we're looking forward to spending a restful day or two here.

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