Wednesday, July 19, 2017

6/23 to 7/14 Heading South to Home

I got very lazy about posting to the blog.  My apologies.  We had a few bad days of internet and then I got behind.  We met so many wonderful people and had some unique experiences.  I feel like an ambassador for the Great Loop.  We met so many people who were thinking about doing it.

6/22 It was starting to get hot, not just warm, hot!  We cruised up the York River to Crown Point Marina.  A nice family sort of marina with a boat yard, two pools, grills, and laundry.  We had a couple of relaxing days there.  I grilled some extra sausages and got a few loads of laundry done, while cooling off in either of the pools.  Here we met the first of the couples who were dreaming about the Great Loop.  Our last night there, the sky was filled with spectacular rainbows that were so bright they reflected in the water.

6/25 We finished our tour of the Chesapeake and headed to Norfolk.  Once again we could see huge Navy vessels on our way in and out of Norfolk.  The support of the city of Norfolk for the military is impressive.  Things to do in Norfolk-1) Get my hair done-I had liked the way the stylist did it when we were heading north and got an appointment with her and was happy with the results again 2) Attend a bayou festival that was on the waterfront-Met a nice couple who had an extra free drink coupon. 3) Go to Guy Fieri's Smoke House-It was fun to look at all the pictures of the famous folks on the wall.  The food was good but I was expecting amazing.
4) USS Wisconsin and Nauticus-we didn't do them this time, but those are terrific take ins.

6/27 Prime Rib Time!  The best part of transiting the Virginia Cut is passing Coinjock, NC.  So first on our agenda for being back in NC was to dock at the Coinjock Marina and get reservations at the Coinjock Restaurant.  I ordered the Mate's Cut.  The Mate's Cut is 16 ounces of the best prime rib you will ever had.  The Admiral's cut is 32 ounces!  As it arrived on the table, I immediately cut a huge piece off to save for lunches on the boat.  Umm so good.

6/28 Albemarle Loop- Two summers ago, we cruised the Albemarle to Columbia in Tyrrell County and Manteo for the lost colony play.  This time we cruised up the Albemarle Sound to see Edenton and Albemarle Plantation.  I said cruised but really we just dodged crab pots.  There are so many crab pots placed helter skelter, even in the channel, that it took some of the fun out of cruising.
On the Albemarle Loop, each stop allows two nights free dockage.  There can be small charges for electricity but you can't beat the prices.

Edenton, NC was our first stop.  The lighthouse guards the entrance to the marina. 
Edenton had been the colonial capital of NC.  After the Boston Tea Party, the women of the town got together and boycotted tea, sending a statement to the King.  The teapot became the symbol of the town.

The  town can be walked easily but we also took the bus tour.  The Supreme Court of NC still holds court in the Old Courthouse once a year, although it is mostly used as a venue for weddings and other functions. 
The Cupola House has extensive gardens with ornamental gardens in the front and a very large kitchen garden in the back.
All the buildings have been maintained and restored.  Our boat looked large in this marina, so wherever we went when I told people we came by boat, they would say they had seen it in marina.  The entire town it seems walks the main street and the marina everyday.

Our next stop was Albemarle Plantation.  This is a huge planned community with a marina, golf course, club house, casual eatery, and huge pool that overlooks the sound.  They were having a big weekend when we were there.  A golf tournament was going on and they were having a big anniversary, early 4th of July celebration.  Besides enjoying the pool, I enjoyed the decorated golf cart parade.  What a hoot that was.  One golf cart was towing a pirate ship with a young pirate aboard.  Another golf cart was decorated as a boat and had Uncle Sam waterskiing behind it on some type of rollers.  That night they offered an extensive firework display.  John did very well getting pictures of them.

7/2 Heading back to the southeast, we dodged a few more crab pots to the mouth of the Alligator River.  The Alligator River Marina has changed hands but we were met by the same dock hand who has been so nice to us in the past.  Two different couples approached us to ask about doing the loop and our Mainship.   One couple even came on board for a tour of the boat.  They don't own their boat yet, but are in the planning stages.  The other couple had a smaller boat but took our boat card and looked at the blog to begin their forward looking plans.   It is fun to meet folks who are so excited about the loop.  I hope they will let us know when they head off on their journeys.  An evening thunderstorms passed through and left this rainbow for us to ponder the beauty of the world.
One of the best parts of the Alligator River Marina is that part of it is a gas station with a grill.  The next morning, we made sure we got their homemade biscuit sandwiches to take along for the ride. 

7/3 We travelled down the Alligator Pungo Canal.  It is one of the last connecting sections of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and it was built VERY straight.  It is a good time to use Auto Pilot and smell the NC pine forests.
We stopped at Dowry Creek, one of our favorite stops.  We met some folks taking their new to them boat from FL to the Chesapeake.  We also met the folks aboard Rascals Retreat, who were the tail end of the loopers heading north because straight line winds had torn out their canvas and the metal frame of the flybridge.  As it turns out, on 7/5 when they were cruising to Coinjock, the fellow had a heart attack.  The story of all who helped them, included the owners of Coinjock sending a boat out with someone to climb aboard to help his wife dock was inspiring.  Thankfully, he was helicoptered to Norfolk where he had a successful bypass and is recuperating now.

7/4 We headed up the Neuse River just past Oriental to River Dunes Marina.  On the way there, we passed R E Mayo Seafood and were glad they were open on the holiday.  Everyone was pulling into the docks there for the wonderful seafood.  We stocked up on frozen scallops and some shrimp.  They were having a July 4th celebration at noon with hamburgers and all the fixings but we were a little early for lunch.  They are such nice people there.   We had been to River Dunes two years ago and loved it.  I particularly love the cabanas by the pool.  The cabanas have fans and curtains to keep out the sun.  The River Dunes community is very nice.  I joined in the water aerobics on two days.  At the pool side bar, we got to taste frozen "adult" freezepops, made with things like Not Your Fathers Root Beer.  They are hand made in containers that you can get at Walmart to make your own freezepops.  Another good idea.  They have a courtesy car and we made two trips into Oriental for dinner.  Oriental is known as the sailing capital of NC and definitely has way more boats than people.  While I was doing laundry, I met a man and his son who were doing their laundry too.  He told of going off-shore tuna fishing the day before.  They went to the same fishing grounds that were on the television show, Wicked Tuna Southern edition.  His laundry finished and I was waiting by the pool for mine.  The man and his son returned to the pool to swim with a HUGE piece of fresh caught vacuum packed tuna.  Wow.  After our 4 day respite at River Dunes, we were ready to head on.

7/8 Heading inland on the Neuse, we aimed for the Grand Mariner Marina in New Bern, NC.  We passed several sailing races from huge sailboats to little optimist boats along the way.  After Edenton, New Bern was the colonial capital of NC.  The downtown is very quaint with lots of good places to eat and shop.  Tryon Palace is a replica of the colonial governor's mansion and has been faithfully rebuilt. 
We took the trolley tour which included a tour of Cedar Grove Cemetery where many of their founding fathers and mothers are buried.  John and I will be buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Boston so this was interesting.
New Bern is the home of Pepsi Cola and we visited the site of the pharmacy where it was invented. We liked this sign at the Beer Army about Bruce Wayne and knew our son-in-law would find it funny. 
The Beer Army is known for its hamburgers.  I can honestly say it was the best, juiciest, medium rare burger, I have had.   Like so many small towns they had a fabulous hardware store where I found exactly what I was looking for to use with my white hoses on the boat.  I liked this fountain in the courtyard between the two main streets.
  New Bern was named for a city in Switzerland.  Bern means bear and the town is filled with decorated bears.  This one is sponsored by a company that uses phosphorus.  It is a periodic table bear.

7/11 The Neuse River is the longest river in NC and at the mouth of the river is the widest in US at just over 6 miles.  We headed east again and met back up with the ICW heading south to Beaufort, NC.  Out on the Neuse, we saw several military transports. 
We love Beaufort.  It is a real great boat town and we have been several times for July 4th with our neighbors from the Tides.  We had heard that Homer Smith Marina was doing a lot for transients and some of our friends had loved it there, so we decided to give it a try.  Homer Smith is also a shrimping business.  I have never seen so many shrimp.  Shrimp are brought in on the shrimp boats and processed right there.  Then 18 wheelers back up and fill with the shrimp to be sent to restaurants and groceries.  When we checked in, the owner gave me over 2 pounds of fresh shrimp.  Some I cooked immediately and the rest I froze quickly for future meals.  The temperature was very hot, so the next morning we put the dinghy into the water and dinghied around to the front of town.  This is across from Carrot Island, which is part of the Rachel Carson Marine Estuarian System too.  Feral horses also live on Carrot Island.  You can see them in the background of this picture.
It was a very nice dinghy ride and helped keep us cool.  For lunch, we pulled into the town dinghy dock and had lunch and an ice cream.  Of course, I did a little window shopping too.  For dinner our last night, we went to the Sanitary Restaurant just over the bridge in Morehead City.  It is long established large family run seafood restaurant.  You had to appreciate the sign on the wall, that had obviously been there for many years.   It made me smile.

7/13 This cruising day takes us down the ICW past Camp Lejeune.  But as we were leaving past Morehead City, we heard on the radio the Coast Guard was doing exercises.  As the morning progressed, we heard more radio chatter from Navy Warship 7 telling boats to stay away.  I think if Warship 7 had radioed us to stay away I would have fainted.  I couldn't even see them but found it intimidating.  Then we could hear booms even though we were on the ICW and these exercises were out in the ocean.  Just north of Camp Lejeune, we started to see military jets.  They came in close and it felt like they would land on the flybridge.  I know they don't look so close in these pictures but they were.  And they were loud.

Just after we went through the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge, the bridge tender announced that the ICW was going to be closed to transit by the military for several hours. 

Normally, we stop to anchor at Mile Hammock Bay at the south end of Camp Lejeune.  It was so hot, we decided to seek refuge at the Topsail Island Marina in Surf City where we could plug in and run the air conditioning.  The marina is right on the main street of Surf City.  It was a happening place and gearing up for the weekend.  We walked to dinner and after dinner,  I walked for an ice cream.  A good last night before heading home.

7/14 We knew that we were close to home when we could see the local fauna.  This giraffe lives just north of the Figure Eight Island bridge.
In no time at all we cruised past The Tides and headed to Snows Cut and Joyner Marina to our home dock there.

7/19 I am finally finishing this segment of the blog.  We heard about using Reflectix behind our outside curtains in the front of the boat.  We have bought it and installed it and it seems to make a big difference.  The house bathroom remodel started again on Monday and is almost done.  We have a list of chores for home and boat to keep us busy for quite a bit.  Lastly, we can prepare for our three grandchildren to spend two weeks with us.   I am looking forward to that.  The blog will resume with our next adventure.