The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins
Skinny Dippin'

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year, New Hopes!!

Today is December 30th.  Our boatyard is on holiday hiatus until Wednesday January 2nd.  We're hoping that we are simply waiting on bottom paint and will Splash on Friday, January 4th.

My hope for the coming year is that you along with us, find yourself on the water, going to your favorite destinations, spending time with your favorite people, enjoying life.  

As we say goodbye to 2012 and welcome in 2013, set good intentions for the year to come.  Be kind, be caring, and love your friends and family.   

Don't worry, Be Happy. 

The Crew of Skinny Dippin' wishes you the Happiest of New Years!  May we all find our own little pieces of paradise, no matter where that may be!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

End of Year Musings....

Happiest of Holidays to all of you!  Thanks for checking in again on the Adventures of Skinny Dippin’!  Our Holiday card may be a little familiar, but the sentiment has changed some due to current circumstances!!
 We hauled out on October 15th for a quick bottom paint job and hull wax.  Now, ten weeks later we are still waiting.  All previous yard managers have recommended that we have our blisters ground out and this time we decided to actually do it.  The first step was media blasting 20 years of paint build up off the bottom.  Step two was grinding out the big blisters. Step three was sitting and drying out for several weeks.  Step four was a fairing compound and more sanding.  Step five will be three coats of epoxy barrier coat.  Step six, coming next week after the holidays will be hard bottom paint.  We’re hoping to be back in the water next Friday, but the weather may very well hold us up further.  The weather has to be at or above 50 degrees for the epoxy barrier coat and hard paint to be applied.  So we will see how the next week goes.


While out of the water, Tom refinished the salon floors.  Eight coats of Rustoleum Urethane satin finish later, and we have a nicely finished salon floor. This is the last coat, still wet.

We thought about renovating the head while out of the water, but ran out of time and motivation.  Driving 140 miles each way while only  doing projects is taxing on one’s mental health.  We will attempt that when back in our marina!  I’m also about to make a new galley table.  The big V-berth drop down table is difficult to get in and out of for eating.  So I’m making a nice little round table that will be much more user friendly. 

While we’ve been out of the water, I’ve been thinking about what comes next.   For a few months this Fall we had considered upgrading to something a little larger, maybe a little faster.  But for now, Skinny Dippin’ will continue to be our current adventure.  Maybe I thought,  it’s just time for some new surroundings again. 

The beauty of a coastal cruiser is being able to choose different home ports based solely on where we want to be and how far from home are we willing to drive!  Southport NC is on a very short list of possible short term homes for Skinny Dippin’. 

Southport is a great location with easy short cruises over to Bald Head Island, Wrightsville Beach, Myrtle Beach and a little further away is Georgetown SC.  I’m currently trying to talk some of our New Bern friends into coming with us!  We love New Bern and the cruising grounds around the Neuse River and Beaufort Inlet.  But mostly what keeps us there is the people we’ve met and come to hold dear.  At the same time, I think I might like to spend some time in Southport to get to know the town better. 

Or, do we stay on the Neuse for another season and hope for better weather windows this year?  Only time will tell for sure!  Either option is a great one, and one we will look forward to with great anticipation as another boating season arrives.

For now, enjoy the last of your holidays and remember to love your friends and family.  Be kind to yourself, to others and to our mother earth.  Walk softly and smile often.
Here are some warm thoughts for you....


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Random Ramblings

November 4th, 2012

Can you believe it is November already?  Time flies by faster and faster every year.  I apologize for not posting anything interesting to read in recent months.  I have felt truly uninspired.  Most of our Summer boating adventures were minimized due to high winds, or summertime storms. There simply weren’t any great adventurous cruising weekends to share with you.  We still spent every weekend on the boat, yet there wasn’t a lot of boating being done.   There is nothing wrong with being a dock queen, but actually getting out on the water is good for your soul.

I have sat down several times over the last months trying to come up with something, anything to share.  But nothing sounded remotely interesting. 

I’m feeling quite uninspired even now.  We delivered Skinny Dippin’ to the boatyard on October 14th.  We wanted to get a quick bottom paint job and new zincs.  She was going to be out for 2 weeks.  Not because it would take that long, but because we only have weekends to move her back and forth.  So when the workers started finally, they thought they were doing a blister job, not a simple paint job.  When the yard manager noticed they started the wrong job, he stopped them and called Tom.  He offered to go ahead and fix what they had started and do the job we hired for.  Or, we could go for the full job and he’d give us a deal since it wasn’t what we had planned.  We’d have to be out of the water for 6-8 weeks to have it done properly.  Are you kidding?

After the shock wore off, we decided to go ahead and get it done.  She will be media blasted, the blisters ground out and filled, barrier coat, hard paint, and ablative paint.  She’s also getting her hull waxed and a prop job.  That’s what the yard is doing.  While she’s out, we will also be refinishing the teak salon floors, reupholstering the sofa, adding storage under the sofa, new sink and counter in the head, and possibly a full remodel of the head.

Acceptance came upon me today on the drive home from the yard.  My boating season was over.  I was really looking forward to some Fall boating.  We’re going to miss the rest of this season.   But the work done will help her hold her value, and will make her stand out and above other boats of her size and class.

The life of a lucky old trawler is being loved so much by all who own her, that each owner brings her new life and new energy.   When Skinny Dippin’ is back in the water, she will have a new bottom, a new bath, shiny teak hardwoods and new stateroom carpeting.  This old gal is slowly being renewed yet again.  So that she, can bring us many more years of boating happiness, and all who come after us!

I will document the work being done, and the work we will do.  Perhaps it will be helpful to our fellow boaters.  Maybe it will be interesting to read about for those not on the water.  I will also try to come up with some awesome new adventures for 2013!

In 2011, we hauled out for a hurricane and got the bottom painted.  In 2012 we hauled out for bottom paint and had a hurricane.  The NC Inner banks faired very well.  The Outer banks had some damage.  We all send hope and best wishes to the folks in New York and New Jersey.  We know what you are going through.  You can get through this. Your pain is real, and it's heartbreaking. The power will come back on.  The flood waters will recede.  Any tragic event like this is a good reminder that life is short.  Love your family and friends.  Be kind to your neighbors.   Treasure everything that today has to offer.  Even if it is the uninspired ramblings of a frustrated boater!

Thanks for visiting!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Vacation 2012

July 1 2012

WOW!!  I don’t even know where to start…truly.  While we were planning our summer cruise, one of our good friends had a catastrophic fuel tank failure.  So Tom moved having our tanks manually cleaned, not just a fuel scrubbing, up to the top of his maintenance to-do list.  Craig Shrek could do it on the Beaufort Town docks no problem.  WIN!  I get to go back to Beaufort and Tom gets his tanks cleaned!   So I start planning our summer vacation around a tank cleaning.  We plan 2 nights in Beaufort to start and the rest of the week will fall into place based on weather.

We leave Sunday morning at 7am for Beaufort.  The cruise down the Neuse River is calm and flat.  We can clearly see all of the jellyfish and crab floating by.  Some of the crabs appear to be waving at us.  At one point you could not see where the water ended and the sky began.  It was a very strange anamoly!

We get treated to a handful of dolphin playing in our stern wake in Adams Creek.    It’s actually quite a bit cooler than expected….75-80 degrees.  We arrive in Beaufort right around 130pm.  We get settled in and let the people watching begin. 
Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina.  The old homes with huge porches are reminiscent of a small Charleston or Savannah.  This is a town where cars will stop to let pedestrians cross the road.  It’s simply amazing.  Yes, the Town Docks are too expensive by a long shot, but this is a vacation so we splurge a little!

Sunday evening we’re enjoying a quiet cocktail on the flybridge when Tom gets a text from his brother.  It says, “be right there, and the Carithers are on their way too!”  As soon as he read it, I could see Brian and Karen walking toward us on the waterfront.  Tracy arrives via her restored 1950’s Schwinn….and finally William and Lisa arrive.  It’s always the impromptu gatherings that are the most fun.  The group of us go over to the only remaining open restaurant on the waterfront at 9pm…a new Mexican place.  While we had a grand time laughing and carrying on, I would recommend skipping this place.  It was pretty bad!  Hind sight being 20-20 I should have challenged Brian to cook something in my tiny galley with my pantry provisions!  I’ll remember that for next time!

Monday arrived with torrential downpours.  Luckily they left almost as quickly as they came.  Unfortunately we had all of the windows and portlights open because the AC had stopped working Sunday right after we arrived.  It was a cool night, so not a big deal.  We get the name of Derrick an AC guy who shows up at 8am to see what we’ve done to it.  Just a little wiring issue and we’re making cool air again!  Then Tom’s fuel guy shows up at about 1030am and gets to work.  The job took just about all day.  But the tanks are clean and that’s one worry Tom can check off his list.

Monday afternoon a celebrity arrives in Beaufort NC!  It’s Steve and Linda Dashew with their 83ft boat called WindHorse.  Tom and I have been following their blog since we came across it.  The Dashews are world cruisers with over 80,000 miles under them.  They have designed their boats for efficiency and safety.  While not beautiful and shiney, their boats are unmatched in sea capabilities.  And the interiors are very well appointed, from the pictures I’ve seen on their blog.

Tuesday morning we jump in the dinghy to go explore some of the islands and get a close up view of WindHorse!  Tom has to do at least two full laps around her before I hope to finally get my toes in the sand!!  NOT!  The winds are up and the water is choppy and we’re both getting soaked from the bowspray!!  We didn’t land on any of the islands but we did have a nice long dinghy adventure!   We didn’t take any pictures along the way, because the water spray was continual and cold!

Tueday  afternoon we jump on the bikes to go get a look at Town Creek Marina on the other side of Beaufort.  Town Creek got tore up when Hurricane Irene came to town.  And they still have some work to do on the docks.  The restaurant and tiki bar were closed this day, so we didn’t get a good look at those facilities. 

Wednesday we decided to head out to Cape Lookout!!  We plan to leave at o-dawn-thirty to catch the early morning slack tide through Beaufort Inlet.  Beaufort inlet can get really squirrely so you really need to plan the wind and tide carefully.  We get out of the inlet without incident.  Soon after we make the turn to head to Lookout Bight, we get a big wake.  I really, really do not like when Skinny Dippin’ gets thrown around like that.  We call it a furniture scrambler.  It makes me want to pee myself.  I’m not sure how to get over that feeling. If we were in a sea that rolled like that I don’t think I could stomach it.  The few seconds it takes for a wake to go by are bad enough….I don’t think I could go long distances with that much rolling.  I know, you’re going to tell me that this is why you wait for weather windows.  And to be honest, when or if we get to go cruising…the majority of our cruising will be coastal, inside the ICW, in the Ditch as they say. 

Okay, back to this story!  It takes us an hour and 32 minutes to get to the Bight and get the anchor set.  The winds are from the NE today…and we are on the wrong side of the Bight.  The wind is blowing up a big chop and again…..the weather foils our beach day.  We probably could have deployed the dink…but I was too worried about getting the outboard on the dink and then getting the dog in the dink without losing either of them.  So we sit and enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful beach views.  Our anchor alarm goes off a few times…but we know we’re in 25ft of water.  Every now and then the depth sounder jumps to 4.5 ft - beep beep beep beep.  We are not dragging so something is floating under the boat.   A little while later I’m sitting on the bow in the sunshine and I see the culprit!  A large sea turtle is playing with us!  He must have been 3 feet long!  Every time he would swim under the keel the sounder would hit his shell and the alarm would go off!

When the time comes for us to haul anchor, so we can make it back to the inlet on the next slack tide, our windlass lets go!  We had 80 feet of 3/8’s chain out with our 35lb plow anchor.  When the windlass let go, another 40 feet went out before we could get the snubber back on.  The only thing we can do is have me slowly drive the boat forward while Tom hauls the chain in hand over hand.  He’s my hero!  So many things could have gone horribly wrong right then, but my husband always has some idea of something to try to make things okay.

We get back through the inlet with no issues at all. The water is actually calmer this afternoon than it was this morning.  We are heading to the Morehead City Yacht Basin.  It is one of our favorite spots.  The crew there is just over the top fantastic.  As we hail them on the radio, Mike says, “Come ahead of the aluminum looking boat”.  Tom answers back on the radio, “That is not any aluminum looking boat, that is the world famous WindHorse!”  We got to dock right there in front of her.  She was taking on 3500 gallons of fuel and it would take two days to get the fuel loaded and moved between her tanks.  That evening we even got to personally meet Steve and Linda.  What a treat!  Seriously, if we ever hit the lotto, the second phone call would be to them to commission our own Dashew 64.

This evening we went to Floyd’s 1921 for the first time.  We’ve heard over the years how great Floyd’s was and it didn’t disappoint!  Blue cheese grits with flash fried oysters!!  Holy crap!!  I followed that with a fried oyster mango spinach salad and Tom had tomato crab bisque with baby back ribs that had a side of buttered rum sweet potatoes!!

Thursday we decide start our journey home.  There is a heat wave descending on NC with 100+ temps for the next 4 days.  We figure we’d head home early and hang by the pool.  But as we are about to enter Adams Creek,

we decide to turn around and try out the Morehead City Town docks instead. We hadn’t moored there yet and Tom really wanted to collect some more Active Captan points!  The Town Docks are managed by Denard from Portside Marina.  We called them on the phone so Mike at the Yacht Basin wouldn’t know we were cheating on him again.  J  The Town Docks are right at the end of the main waterfront area at 9th Street.  They are new floating docks with power and water.  There are public restrooms and private showers available.  The view here across the sound to Atlantic Beach is really amazing.  The water is gorgeous!

We jump on the bikes here too as we’ve run out of beverages onboard!  The closest grocery store is a Lowe’s and I’m going to guess it was about 2 miles down Bridges Street just a few blocks after the Atlantic Beach bridge.   Not walking distance at all…but if you have a decent bike with baskets or transit racks, you can get a few items.  (there’s also a taxi cab)

The new City Kitchen is a quaint little Bistro that Brian and Karen Carithers opened on 11th street in Morehead City.  Just two blocks from the town docks.   Not a cheap meal by any stretch, but really out of this world delicious.  This is a “must do” when you want a real treat.  Thursday night’s meal was an appetizer of pork tacos, Shrimp and grits, Duck quesadilla and chili Thai meatballs!  Tom topped his meal off with ginger cake with key lime curd!

I knew when we turned around that the winds on Friday were going to be too strong for us to leave Morehead, so we plan on two more days hanging out here watching the water.  Good thing too, Friday had small craft warnings on the Pamlico Sound.  Getting out of Adams Creek over to Minnesott Point would have been very uncomfortable!

So Friday night we tried Sammy’s Oyster Bar on Evans Street at the waterfront!  Tom had the blackened scallops and crab cakes, while I cheaped out with a shrimp burger!  High marks for Sammy’s too.  A great low key relaxed meal without spending too much!

Saturday we had a beautiful calm cruise home to New Bern where the gates to Hell had been opened up!  The heat and humidity were intense.  Our thermometer said 86 degrees inside the boat and 109 outside the boat.  Heat like that just makes me stupid.   So Sunday we get moving again at o-dawn-thirty to drive the two and a half hours home before the triple digit temps get going at home!

We spent 9 days on the boat this time.   I’m hoping my land-legs come back to me before I get back to work tomorrow!!   We didn’t get around to doing all of the things we wanted to do.  But we did get some good boating hours in, a few bike rides, many great meals (and one not so great), visits with old and new friends and lots of sundowners!  For the first 4 days we ate almost all of our meals on the boat.  Then once we got to Morehead City we threw caution to the wind and really treated ourselves to fantastic food!  AND…..We got to meet the Dashews. That will always be a great memory!!

We came home a little heavier, a lot more tan and a little pickled!!   Overall another great adventure in Skinny Dippin’! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

South River Weekend   

As you have heard, our cruising plans this season have been quite challenging.  Mother Nature has not been our best friend.  We planned a three day weekend this past week, with Tivo staying at home for some pool time with our friend and neighbor.  With him safely cared for, we have free reign to do whatever we want!  As the weekend approached, I personally kept waiting for the weather to go to crap, as it has every other weekend this season. 

I sent emails to all of our cruising buddies to invite them to “not” come along.  It was my “anti” plan.  If Mother Nature didn’t know we were planning something, she couldn’t ruin it for us.  None of our friends were able to join us, so we were totally on our own!

Saturday Morning dawned clear and calm, the perfect start to the weekend.  We left about 9am for a 35 mile cruise down river.  We stopped off at Northwest Creek Marina to get some fuel and a few provisions.  We chat for a minute with our friends who are destined for projects this weekend then we are off for our adventure!

This is our first visit to South River.  It’s near the end of the Neuse, where it joins the Pamlico Sound.  We explore all the way up South River and into West Creek.  After some serious nature watching, we turn around and settle in near the State dock.  We are safely anchored and ready for relaxing by 3 or 4pm.   It’s so quiet and peaceful here.  The water is littered with Jellyfish.  Too many for even  a quick swim!

We’re both super surprised that on this beautiful weekend, we are one of two boats anchored out here.  Tom had a good time playing mosquito badmitten.  I turned in for a nap so I could enjoy the stars at night, but accidently slept all the way through! 

Sunday morning we cruised across the Neuse River and explored Lower Broad Creek before heading to Oriental for the evening.   We went over to the new Trawl Door at the Harbour Marina for a beer or two.  We had the opportunity to meet the new owners.  They’re a neat couple who just retired from farming.  They have a 60ft Sportfish that they cruise Mexico with every winter. 

Our friend and cousin joins us for a drink then it’s on the M&M’s for the best brisket I’ve ever had.  After dinner we retire to the sundeck of Skinny Dippin’ with Andy for Dark&Stormies.  Andy is in his home town, and holding court on our sundeck.  It’s really quite amazing to be a part of this scene.  People come and go.  Some come aboard, some carry on conversations from the dock.  This is literally a town where everyone knows your name.  After Andy retires for the evening, we walk over to the Tucan for a few lighter beverages.  We meet some of our dock mates for the evening and spend a few hours talking about everything and anything!  What a great time!

Monday is a 3 hour cruise back to New Bern.  There’s always something sad and boring about the trips home.  The weekend is over.  This dream life we have on the water has to turn back into reality with jobs and bills.  Just a few more years of leading the double life, before we can throw caution to the wind and simplify. 

Next up is a week long vacation aboard Skinny Dippin’!  Weather permitting, we’ll either cruise to Ocracoke or Cape Lookout.  Looking forward to some more fun new stories to tell!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

So…this Spring has been fun and challenging so far!   Our Easter trip to Beaufort got put off due to Gale Force winds.  Luckily New Bern has tons to do on a long holiday non boating weekend!  And it was a great opportunity to refinish the brightwork while stuck in the marina!

Mid April was the Oriental Annual Boat Show!  We cruised down river to check out the vendors and meet up with friends.  We had a calm smooth 3 hour cruise down river.  As soon as we get tied up the winds kick up to 15-20 knots!!  This weekend had us learning how to tie up tight to pilings.  No dock cleats in Oriental. We put out double stern lines just to be safe!

Early May is the annual airshow at Cherry Point Marine Airstation.  The Blue Angels come every two years.  We planned a weekend at anchor with our cruising buddies from Northwest Creek Marina.  Friday night we stayed in New Bern hanging around the marina with new and old friends.  On Saturday we all gathered around noon at our “secret” anchorage.   We had Skinny Dippin’, Stella Del Mar, Andante II, Idle Time, Charbonneau, Hot Chocolate, Bubbles and Temptation!  After appetizers and cocktails, Stella, Temptation and Bubbles made their way back to their home slips.

The rest of us gathered on Idle Time, a 40 foot Tiara.  We planned a potluck dinner and had grilled chicken and scallops, green bean- tomato – mozzarella salad, tomato & watermelon salad and deviled eggs.  As dinner was wrapping up, a line of storms showed up on the radar.  It was just one line, so we all headed back to our own boats to wait it out.  We even planned on reconvening after an hour for sundowners.  This was about 7 or 8pm.  Reconvening was not going to happen!

As the storm got closer, it also blew up to be the size of the whole eastern half of the state.  We let out more anchor chain and hunkered in.  We have a 35lb plow type anchor with 180 ft of 3/8’ chain.  Charbonneau, Hot Chocolate and AndanteII have all been through good blows.  Skinny Dippin’ and Idle Time were experiencing storms at anchor for the first time.  We felt somewhat comforted that we had some more experienced sailors here with us that were hunkering in too.

The rain was heavy and the winds strong.  As the storm passed we circled our anchor twice, in full swings. The storm took 4 hours to pass.  We took anchor watches.  I did the first two hours and Tom the second.  You really have to be ready to haul anchor and reset if need be in a storm.  Luckily we didn’t have to do this.  The visibility was very very low.  It would have been very difficult to reset in the darkness and the winds.

After the storm passed, the winds turned out of the North, which had us unprotected.  The winds felt like they were still around 20-30kts the way Skinny Dippin’ was hobby horse bouncing at anchor.  Again, we kept watch because we didn’t want her wiggling her way loose.  In reality the winds were only 10-15kts, but still unnerving!  As the stern would slam back into the water,  water would swoosh up the exhaust pipe, and then swoosh back out.  Water was gurgling in the output thru hull for the head sink.  All noises were amplified so much!!  Sleep was still allusive as the minutes slowly ticked by.

At first light, we hauled anchor and got out of dodge.  We were exhausted from no sleep and wanted to get securely tied up at our home slip. 

Take aways for us from our first storm are, 1. We can trust our ground tackle. 2.We need to do a better job setting our anchor alarm.  3. Sleeping at anchor in a chop is not possible.  4. Anchoring without the genset sucks.

So, we had a fabulous day at anchor sharing good times with good friends.  At one point I was floating in the river on a floatie while dolphin swam close by.   And oh yeah, the Blue Angels were flying overhead!

Here are some pictures for you!  Stay tuned!  Summer is right around the corner.  We haven’t decided yet on a big cruise for this summer.  We may just stay local and get better at anchoring out in our local creeks and rivers.  All winter projects are complete.  We have a new invertor and charger and the genset is running again.  We have mosquito screens and window shades.  The brightwork is refinished.  All we need to do this summer is enjoy boating.  Looking forward to that!