The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins
Skinny Dippin'

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’! 

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