Somewhere South of Norfolk

Yesterday we did our last bit of exploring Manteo with my sister Pat and her husband Terry.  We had a great dinner in the “Tranquil Inn” and then hooked a cab out to Manteo’s version of a passion play…appropriately called The Lost Colony.  I thought of it as similar to a ‘passion play’ because we all knew the story; it was about the acting, the set, the special effects and the music.  All of those elements were very well done!  A cool evening breeze precluded the expected onslaught of mosquitos.  All in all a delightful evening…we even slept with the AC off.

This morning, our boat guests departed before sunup and Mosey On and her crew cast off at high tide (at 8 AM) to safely clear the extensive shallows in and out of Shallowbag Bay. We had fair winds and smooth water to cross Albemarle Sound…not to be taken for granted! A mama Osprey feeding her young while perched atop this waterway marker gave us a vocal scolding we could hear over the rumble of our big John Deere!

Osprey Nest atop Waterway Marker

Osprey Nest atop Waterway Marker

We’ve dropped the hook for the evening in Blackwater Creek, still thirty some miles south of Norfolk. We’ll stop there tomorrow and evaluate our choices in light of a low pressure system trying to get itself organized for a possible run up the Coast.  Note: Mosey On does not outrun anything…it would be unseemly.

 

A legacy of Dauntless Courage

With a day (and a rental car) to put to good use before last evening’s wedding reception,  Colleen and I drove south from Nag’s Head down the strand of sand that makes up the ‘Outer Banks’ to a wide spot named Chicamacomico and a museum dedicated to the U.S. Life Saving Service, a turn-of-the-last-century component of the Coast Guard.  The Service was created to ‘professionalize’ the training and methods of what had been the acts of random volunteers drawn to the beach.  There are books written on the extraordinary efforts these men and women made to rescue passengers and crew from stricken vessels up and down both coasts of the U.S.  In hazardous reaches, there were such stations approximately every 8 miles!  The architecture for these stations was proscribed.  The Federal contracts were straight-forward and practical:  A boat house, bunks for 8 men, cookhouse,  that the buildings be movable and not to be mistaken for private homes.  The rest was left up to the architect, contract budget constraints, and significant local flourishes (community pride).   Some of their signature design elements found their way into our guest cottage in Oriental, NC.  We had gone to see the ‘real thing’.

Chicamacomico Boathouse

Chicamacomico Boathouse

What we found in the preserved buildings and memorabilia was a fascinating account of maritime Americana.  I am awed by the skill and courage exhibited by ‘Coasties’ then… and now in rescue operations.  One sailor’s thanks!

What about Manteo?

Its a historic old town on the Eastern shore of Roanoke Island directly across the bridge from the glitz and glamour of the better-known Nags Head on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Manteo has boat docks, historic sites and restaurants…..Nags Head is your archetypal beach town. Colleen and I with my sister Pat (as crew) have made our way here for my nephew’s wedding reception.  Her husband Terry has joined us on board here in the marina for a little peace and quiet…
Yesterday, we went to see the “Elizabethan Gardens” begun in 1950 and have become a remarkable garden showcase built over the site of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘Lost Colony’.  I noted that the gardens are maintained by donations and solely through the efforts of the local Garden Club.  Proof of the passion of gardeners!

Another thing to like about Manteo, because we have no wheels, is the ready availability of groceries and boat supplies within a short walk.  The shopping is usually available somewhere about, but the ‘carry home’ can be problematic…

Tonight we’re invited to a pirate-themed pre-event. Will have to find an eye patch and bandanna!

Up the Alligator River

Alligator - Pungo Canal

Alligator – Pungo Canal

We didn’t see a single ‘gator…and no inclination to do much exploration along the banks of this waterway version of an interstate highway. This man-made cut is some 21 miles long with but one small bend approximately mid-way. The channel is sufficiently wide for boats to pass in each direction and roughly 8 ft. deep in the center. Not much of a challenge to our navigation skills; it was hot, humid and windless. Home to a variety of flies that aren’t very quick, but take a chunk out of you with each bite!….the river seems misnamed.
By late afternoon we were out of the canal and the river and into Albemarle Sound, pursued by some towering thunderstorms with lots of rain, but very little wind. We turned southeast down the Sound towards Roanoke Island and our marina at Manteo. The breeze freshened, on the bow (as is our lot) and brought with it the ‘dreaded Albemarle chop’. No big deal for us today….it hadn’t had time to whip up into much and we slipped into Manteo at sunset. We’ve heard that this is a great place to visit.

I must add this footnote: Although Kitty Hawk, Nag’s Head, Manteo and Roanoke Island form a very large protected sound…the water depths (outside some vaguely marked ‘channels’) are generally 2’ or less! A little ‘pucker time’ for Mosey On and her crew.

June 23rd, 2014 River Dunes to the Pungo River

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Underway…after our nearly two-month hiatus.  All stocked-up with food, reading material, DVDs, libations, my sister, Pat …etc.  We slipped lines from our slip at River Dunes this morning at 9:45 after topping-off the fuel (we have capacity for almost 1000 gallons of diesel) and ensuring the holding tanks were fully pumped-out (gross-but critical). The weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 80s and a North Wind at 15 Knots….sounds about perfect, except for the wind direction, speed and period (timing between crests) and our locale on Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.  You see, the period (5 Seconds) and height (3-4 feet) generates what NOAA blandly calls Moderate Chop…..when heading into such seas (our course had these winds/waves directly on the ‘nose’).  We banged-along, much sea spray, like a giant rocking horse…..not really fun in our 60,000 lb. trawler….so we ‘bore off’ and ‘shouldered’ into the chop for two hours before we could alter heading enough to put the waves off our beam and then stern as we ran up the Pamlico River and more sheltered waters.  The remainder of the day was what we had become accustomed-to during our trip from Florida to N. Carolina – flat water and careful adherence to the channel marks to avoid planting ‘Mosey On’ firmly in the mud!  We made it to our planned anchorage in the Pungo River and dropped the ‘hook’ for the night.  Colleen performed her normal wizardry in whipping-up a shrimp and avocado dinner salad and a chilled bottle of Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc!  All of which put me in the proper mind to write this post!  Tomorrow evening we’re hoping to tie-up in Manteo (Roanoke Island) [part of the Outer Banks] for our nephew’s wedding reception…the lengths we’ll go to for a good party!

Prologue

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”All Past is Prologue”…seems to sum it up nicely!  When Colleen & I had had enough of New England’s winters…we moved to N. Carolina with plans in hand to build our dream home in the Tidewater country along Pamlico Sound…and more specifically near the town of Oriental on the Neuse River.  We built our “Carriage House” and settled in to supervise the construction of our dream house, according to retiree norms.  Well, it hasn’t progressed in quite that way.  We’ve always harbored another dream, and not really on the order of a ‘bucket list’ item:  we wanted to live-aboard our own boat and travel on our own schedule.  So we put the house on hold, dove into researching the boat that might meet our criteria, and finally found and bought “Mosey On” in North Palm Beach, Florida.  We had no experience with a power boat this size (46’ and 60,000 lbs. ), and so hired Chris Caldwell (a Training Captain who came well-recommended) to check us out on Mosey On and provide some wisdom for our trip north to N. Carolina.  With practice, I learned how to dock her without scaring Colleen, the dock hand or…myself!  We went through all of Mosey’s on-board systems and now fully appreciate how well she’s put together.  We have fixed what was ailing (the air conditioning – for hot, humid nights), replaced window screens, replaced some worn carpet, and generally brought her ‘up to snuff’.

This is the log (blog, account, tale….what you will) of our journey north to New England and then back home in the fall via the Chesapeake.  Mosey On cruises along at roughly 6.5 knots (7.5 mph)…so this may take a while!  And as this is my first attempt at blogging…please bear with me while I work out the kinks.  I turned 66 years old today and it’s time to get going!  We’ll slip lines in the morning to begin our next adventure.

Fitz