We were the first one down the road in the misty morning, heading for the first lock-through at 8:30 AM at the far end of the canal on our way to Elizabeth City.
We went under the double bridge that leads into Elizabeth City and docked at the free dock downtown. After we did a little organizing on the boat, we hired a cab to take the Skipper to the hospital for a scheduled blood test and the Admiral to the market for a little grocery shopping. We met back at the boat and used our new cart to drag the laundry a few blocks to the laundromat. The Admiral went back to the boat while the Skipper stopped briefly at the Rose Buddies' wine party on the dock, a tradition started many years ago by some gentlemen in the town to welcome transient boaters. It was such a busy day, that I forgot to take pictures!
Our next anchorage was Dowry Creek, just past the marina there. The next morning was pretty spectacular as mornings often are when you get up early enough to see them. We were now in a rush to get all the way to Charleston, SC before we left the boat to go to Kissimmee because the entire Intracoastal Waterway was scheduled to be closed on either November 10 or 13 for 10 days for the replacement of the Ben Sawyer Bridge. We didn't want to be caught on the wrong side of the closure when we came back from Florida because there are not very many nice and/or inexpensive places to stay for that long just north of Charleston and the way around the outside (out in the ocean) was long and totally dependent on good weather.
So we pushed on to Oriental, one of our favorite places and made a reservation for two nights at the Oriental Marina to wait out another wind storm before we crossed the Neuse River again. Our slip was right across from "The Bean", a great coffee shop with a lot off locals sitting on the porch judging one's docking skills.
Our timing was perfect because there was a barbecue and apple pie contest the second night we were there for only $10/person. The proceeds went to charity so we felt we were making a major contribution to humanity by chowing down on pork barbecue, beans, coleslaw, and apple pie -- despite our diets.
The weather was good enough the next day for a long trip down the Waterway past Beaufort (Bow-fort) and Morehead City, through Bogue Sound, past Swansboro and into the middle of the U.S. Marines major training ground. Mile Hammock is an excellent harbor, but no one is allowed to set foot ashore. There were a number of boats anchored there and we anchored right next to the old hulk of a landing craft they use for training.
Off again the next morning for our another marathon trip past the Surf City Bridge and the Topsails. We had intended to stop at Carolina Beach but we made the decision to push on through and head down the aptly named Cape Fear River in less than perfect conditions. Luckily, the wind abated and the tide turned just as we started down and we had a very pleasant trip to an anchorage called The Pipeline in Southport.
Another extended long trip in the effort to get to Charleston in time to see our daughter and her family off took us through the marvelous old pontoon bridge and the border between North and South Carolina at the Calabash river.
We went by Barefoot Landing which used to be a free dock near a shopping and entertainment complex in Myrtle Beach but is now an inexpensive facility with a few amenities. We saw what looks like a real lighthouse outside Coquina Harbor, but there is certainly no navigational purpose for it alongside a man made ditch at the entrance of a man-made harbor. A mystery to be researched later?
Myrtle Beach is wall-to-wall golf courses. One has a parking lot on one side of the ICW and the course on the other. The golfers take an aerial tramway across.
Every other condo complex seems to have a golf course for its front yard. It seems as if there are more golf holes that there are people to aim little balls at them!
We came down the beautiful Waccamaw River past Osprey Marina where we had stayed a couple of times. There is a little anchorage with some houseboats (some sunk) just before Bucksport, which seems to have come back from the dead -- at least for the moment.
We went just a few more miles down the river and anchored in Bull Creek, just beyond the north end of Prince Creek.
We continued down the Waccamaw River and made a quick stop at Georgetown for fuel and fresh shrimp at the shrimp dock. We went across Winyah Bay which includes the inlet that we would have to take if we had to detour around the ICW closing. Thank goodness, we were now on a schedule that would get us past the problem in time!
We bypassed McClellanville, which sounds like an interesting stop and pulled into Awendaw Creek which is actually a very shallow inlet from the ocean.
One of the boats coming in off the ocean pulled alongside and asked if we would like some blue crabs. The answer, of course, was an enthusiastic affirmative and he passed a large plastic box across which the Skipper emptied into the largest bucket aboard. There were so many that they overflowed onto the cockpit and the skipper's bare feet. A very lively dance ensued followed by the donning of shoes and the capture of many errant and combative crabs. They were soon subdued and put into the large crab and lobster pot we always carry which resulted in a much quieter -- and tastier -- passle of crabs. After an exhausting evening picking crabs, the Skipper fell into his bunk for a refreshing sleep and sweet dreams. The next morning returned the favor with another gorgeous sunrise over the ocean.
On the way to Awendaw, we had gotten a report that the ICW closure was postponed to the end of November! We were tempted to turn back and take the boat back to leave her at the Osprey Marina at about half the price of the Charleston City Marina where we now had reservations. But we pressed on since we were now only half a day from Charleston. As we passed the bridge, it was quite apparent that it wasn't close to be ready for the final installation of a new bridge.
We were given a very nice inside slip at Charleston City Marina where the boat will be for a couple of weeks while we drive a rental car to visit our daughter and her family in Kissimmee, Florida until we put them on a plane for Dallas on the 7th. We left a jack-o-lantern on the bow to protect Sesame while we are gone. It has a solar charged light which should turn on every night automatically and scare any miscreants away.
We left the comfort of St. Jeromes Creek in the face of poor forecasts in the coming few days which would make it uncomfortable getting across the wide mouth of the Potomoc River.
We went inside the Smith Point lighthouse and headed for Jackson Creek in Deltaville, Virginia where we had weathered a few storms and cold weather in previous years.
It was a good day to travel and we arrived in the creek while it was still very pleasant. For a minute, we thought we might have taken a wrong turn and were in front of Mount Vernon which we had passed on the way up the Potomoc a couple of years ago. It turned out that it was just some wannabee who wanted a pretentious house on Jackson Creek.
A closer look around revealed a bunch of beautiful Chesapeake work boats. We also noticed that some of the leaves had begun to turn.
A young guy came by a few times paddling a surf board with totally dry clothes. He moved it with great ease and speed. I am sure I would have drowned trying the same thing! He said his 67-year-old father goes out on it all the time in all kinds of weather.
It then commenced to blow pretty hard and rain quite steadily for 6 days and nights. Other boats came in to the marina or the anchorage, but very few left because of the lousy weather. We were glad to be on a boat because there was flooding over a wide area of the bay. The local yacht club dock was close to two feet under water.
On the seventh morning, we saw our first sunrise in many days and decided it was time to head toward Norfolk. We were part of a long parade of all the boats who had been gathering and hiding out for the last few days.
The sailboats had enough breeze to motorsail as we all headed toward the sun and the warmth of the south. We had some schedule constraints since we had just heard that our daughter and her family were moving from Florida to Dallas on the second week of November and we wanted to find a place to leave the boat so we could drive down for a visit before they left.
We passed a number of schooners who were heading north. Either they were returning from a rendezvous around Norfolk or were heading for one in the Chesapeake -- or both!
We passed through Norfolk, figuring that we could get to the Dismal Swamp and maybe even through the first lock and up to the North Carolina Visitors Center free dock.
A whole fleet of these guys rushed by us probably protecting us from the terrorists who were on their way in from the ocean. We went by the museum with its battleship and a number of active warships in drydock or under repair and refurbishment in the docks.
We successfully got through the bridges before one or them shut down for two hours at rush hour and hung a right into the Dismal Swamp Canal.
We made it to the last opening of the Deep Creek Lock with time to spare and found a bigger trawler waiting there. Once in the lock, we could see where we were in relation to the rest of the world (or the East Coast of the US anyway).
The doors behind us closed and water rushed in in front of us to raise us about 8 feet up before the doors in front of us opened and let us out of the box.
We followed the other trawler through the canal past the old Superintendent's house which has deteriorated a lot in the last two years since we saw it last.
As it began to get dark, we passed into North Carolina and pulled into the North Carolina Welcome Center at dusk to tie alongside another boat for the night.
The next day we planned to go through the other lock early in the morning in order to get to the free docks at Elizabeth City to run some errands, do some laundry, get a scheduled blood test for the skipper, and do some grocery shopping.
The information in this column does not change. New entries will appear to the left.
We started this blog in August 2006 when we were getting ready for our first winter heading south in our new powerboat, named "Sesame". The newest entries are first and the oldest are last. General information is in this column.
Most of the photographs are high definition. You can click on any one of them to see the photograph full size. If you want to steal one, click on it. When you get the full-size one, right click and "Save as" whatever you want. I would only ask that you give proper credit if you use them for anything other that your personal delight and delectation.
The Admiral and the Captain
Enjoying a Meal Ashore in Abaco
Powerboating on the East Coast
We are Judy and Allen Ames from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Our boats have all been called "Sesame" (Ameses spelled inside out?). The dinghy, of course, is named "Open".
After 60+ years of sailing, the last 25 aboard a Nonsuch 26 and a Nonsuch 30, we went to the "dark side" and bought a slightly used 28 foot trawler, called variously, a Camano Troll, a Camano 28, or a Camano 31 (see below). This blog starts with our first motor boat trip down the East Coast from Connecticut to Key West and back during the winter of 2006-2007. (We had done a similar trip on our Nonsuch 30 a couple of years before. That trip is pretty well documented in our WebShots albums -- http://community.webshots.com/user/allen_ames) It then picks up with our third trip which took us across the Gulf Stream to Abaco on New Year's Eve 2007.
Like most blogs, the most recent entry is on top and you have to scroll down to get previous entries. You can also click on a specific date at the bottom of this column.
We welcome comments or questions. Just hit the word "Comments" at the end of any entry or email us at: Sesame130@comcast.net. You can send the blog to anyone else by clicking on the envelope with an arrow at the end of each entry.
Sesame, Camano Troll #130
Doing 13 knots
The Camano Troll is a "semi-displacement" trawler, 28 feet long on deck and 31 feet overall if you measure the swim platform and anchor roller. She has a 200 horse Volvo turbo-diesel which can push her up to about 13 knots when we're in a hurry and don't care that we're getting less than a mile per gallon. Normally, we cruise at 7-8 knots which is far more relaxing and gets us close to four nautical miles per gallon. We love the 360-degree view from the main cabin and inside steering station and it's even nicer on the flybridge in good weather.
We have most of the amenities: Hot and cold running water, refrigeration and freezer, 3 burner propane stove with oven, shower and enclosed head, and plenty of room for two people. We have replaced the large dining table (which made it possible to convert the dinette into a double bunk) with a smaller one, but have a 5' x 7' pop-up tent and blow-up queen size mattress that fits perfectly on the flybridge for occasional guests (our penthouse!). The bridge also has plenty of room for a couple of lounge chairs.
We have three AGM batteries on the "house" side of our 12-volt system. To keep the small chest freezer, refrigerator, and various toys going, we usually run the engine for a couple of hours a day when we are at anchor or moored in order to keep the batteries charged We also have a 110 volt belt-driven generator which runs off the main engine to power the microwave, airconditioner (and reverse-cycle heater), etc. Smaller 110 appliances, a TV, computers, and rechargers run off a small inverter. A 7.5 amp solar panel helps keep the house batteries up in sunny weather giving a little more TV and freezer time before we have to start up the engine. Of course, all of the 110 system works when the boat is plugged into dock power too.
We communicate by Verizon cell phone and get our internet through a Verizon air card or WiFi wherever and whenever service is available. (Verizon is not our favorite vendor, but it has the best coverage all the way down the East Coast.) We have external marine antennas for both the air card and WiFi. Where we don't have cell service (Bahamas, some of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Maine) but can get WiFi, we use Skype.
The boat was built in British Columbia but the factory has recently been sold and they say they will begin building in Washington state. See the links below for more pictures and specs of the boat.
Our title is a leftover from an old English teacher's fondness for alliteration rather than a true description of the contents. Actually, we plan very carefully to avoid having it become a saga, or even an adventure! We refuse to have a real schedule or dated itinerary for fear that we would be tempted to venture out in poor conditions. If we want to meet someone along the way, we give them the choice of when or where, not both. The only exceptions are when we are relatively certain that we can reach a destination easily and safely at least a week before a specific date. Even then, we make it clear that all "plans" are subject to change or cancellation.
Traditionally, there are two kinds of cruisers: those who are happy in slower boats (sailboats and slow trawlers) focus on the voyage, while those with fast boats are all about the destination. We definitely belong to the former group.
Our goal is to do virtually nothing, and do it well!
Or, to invoke the greatest all-time boating cliche, as Kenneth Graham's Rat says in The Wind in the Willows: Believe me, . . . . there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing . . . . about in boats -- or with boats. . . . . In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.