Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mechanical Issues and Crossing Abermarle

Yesterday, I had mechanical issues.  It started early in the morning, when I pulled my anchor to head out on the Abermarle.  I heard a screeching sound from my serpentine alternator belt.  Average Looper pulled up beside me and Mark came aboard to check it out.   I pulled the cover off enough to take a look at the belt and it was loose.  We decided it would probably be okay until we came into our next port, here in Camden, NC (next to Elizabeth City).  Today, we tightened it.

Heading through the Abermarle was rough.  It was predicted for 1 to 2 foot seas, but they were on the beam and seemed much bigger than 1 to 2 foot.  We tacked across the Abermarle to reduce the amount our boats were thrown around.  I had waves coming up over my front windows, and the visibility was horrible.  Periodically, I would get a quick view and check for crab pots and where Mark and Jane were, relative to where I was.  Mostly, I was tracking my progress on my chartplotter.  The Abermarle was like a minefield, with the crabpots.  Not only were we zigzagging across to avoid being thrown around, we had to zigzag through the crabpots.  We did it though, a few hours later, we had crossed!  Next we headed up the Pasquotank River, and passed Elizabeth City.

When we arrived at Lamb's Marina, I headed to the fuel dock.  As I pulled up, I noticed two things... the minor problem was my swim ladder, which had gotten loose from where it was secured under my swim platform.  The bigger problem was the bilge pump, which appeared to be working overtime getting water out of my boat.  I can't hear the bilge with the motor running.  I think it was probably good I didn't know about this on the Abermarle, as there wasn't anything I could have done.  The hose clamps where the shaft is, were loose and water was pouring in around them.  We tightened them, and it is still leaking a little.  A diver took a look at my prop, and I need a new one.  Once the prop gets damaged, it throws off the rotation of the shaft, causing a vibration.  The vibration apparently loosened the hose clamps.  I was asked if I noticed the vibration.  Honestly, I was just trying to keep myself and my boat upright coming through the Abermarle!

Tomorrow, we are pulling the boat out of the water, on a trailer, and we will be taking care of all this.
The people are great here!

Docking at Lamb's marina was quite the challenge!  I have a boat so close in front of me, that my anchor hangs over their swim platform.  A few feet behind me is another large boat, and facing into my port side, I have the bow of a 45 foot Bayliner (running on one motor, because they hit a tree stump in the Alligator Pungo Canal).  There are six "looper boats" here, including my little tug.  We are all staying here to wait out the storm for the next couple days.

The Bet

Mark won the bet, and Jane took the video... edited by Mark.  I bought dinner.  This was a fun, fun day!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fun and Anchoring

It has been a couple days since the last post, so let me start with where I left off.

Two days ago, it was Mark's birthday, from Average Looper.  We were staying at a very beautiful marina, with more amenities than one can imagine, including paddle boards.  I asked Mark and Jane, if they wanted to make a wager on doing the yoga tree pose on a paddle boat.  Whoever lost, would have to buy dinner at Spoon River, in Belhaven.  (We had heard how good the food was.)  Jane declined.  Mark initially declined as well.  He said it was his birthday, he wanted to sit by the pool, drink a cold beer, and read his book.  After the beer, the resting by the pool, a little bit of sun, and maybe getting bored with the book, he changed his mind. I hate to admit it, but Mark won the bet.  He held his pose longer... although there are no pictures  to really prove it.  Then, we raced to his boat, and back to the dock... and he beat me at that too.

After the fun and games, we were joined by Jim, on Bluenoser.  We headed to a friend's home, who live near the marina, and we enjoyed their company for the evening.

Yesterday, our three boats (Annabelle, Average Looper, and Bluenoser) headed up the Pamlico River to an anchorage across from River Rat Yacht Club.  It was a very shallow anchorage, less than 5 feet.  I headed upstream a little further than either of the other two boats.  We were expecting a late afternoon thunderstorm, but what we ended up with was severe thunderstorms with tornado warnings.  In the worst part of the storm, Bluenoser's anchor lost its hold and started drifting into Average Looper.  Jim was able to get control of his boat and get his anchor reset halfway between my boat and Average Looper.

This morning, we came a few miles up to Belhaven.  A quaint little town, with wonderful restaurants.  I paid up on my bet.  We were greeted this afternoon by the town ambassador.  Tonight we say farewell to our good friend, Jim, who will head out ahead of us, and home to Canada.  We will be able to see him again just as we finish up the Trent-Severn Locks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some Memorable Moments

OK... today is only the 4th day.  I am happy to be sitting back and relaxing!  There are moments, which I don't have any pictures of, but somehow, they seem like the ones that I wish I could paint a picture of!

The first, was the guy whose outboard exploded, as we were leaving the dock.  Fortunately, it went out before we could get them an extinguisher or take any pictures.  (I am sure Southport Marina has it on their footage.)

On our second day out, we went under two twelve foot bridges.  The Surf City bridge only opens on the hour.  We arrived about 15 minutes early, and I was tempted to see if I could lower my antenna so I could fit under the bridge.  I would have needed a wrench, and loosened it while hanging off the side of my little boat.  I chose to wait it out with Average Looper and a few other boats.  The bridges have fairly narrow openings to go through, and there are some general rules in going under bridges, which are usually followed.  One rule is to not pass other boats, another rule would be not to throw a large wake, as the energy of the wave created by the wake, will go back and forth within the confines of the opening.  Average Looper headed the line through the bridge, and I followed.  A cuddy cabin fishing type boat decided to head in after me, and pass me with a large wake, then cut across my bow, behind Average Looper, and into the marina just past the bridge.  The water is fairly contained between the walls of the bridge, so I felt like I was in a washing machine, being thrown around.  I had a few choice words for the captain of that fishing vessel, which I did not put out on the VHF radio, for everyone to hear.  It was all I could do to steer through the mess the fishing vessel made.

The last moment I wanted to share, happened last night.  I layed down in my little V-berth, under my cozy blankets, and looked up at the starry night sky, through my hatch.  The Big Dipper was perfectly framed by my hatch!  It was such a beautiful night!  I thought to myself that this was what doing the Loop is all about -  moments like this one, falling asleep under the stars.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day Two!

We made it another day!  I am just going to post a few pictures.  Some of them I took, because they made me laugh.  For instance, we were going fairly slow, and a sailboat, Kitten Wake, passed us.  OK... I know we were slow, but today, I averaged 1.5 gallons per hour, which is pretty good.  Besides, we weren't in a hurry!  I saw a Scarab, with three big motors.  This didn't catch Mark and Jane's attention, but since my new neighbors, who now live in my house, have a Scarab, it was fun to take a picture.  I think this Scarab was bigger than Glen's!  I imagine it takes a couple gallons just to start the motor.  Scarab's would NEVER be passed by a sailboat.

The most difficult part of the day was heading through the Bogue Sound.  It was a bumpy ride in my boat.  I just wanted to get through it.  We headed into Spooner's Creek to anchor, but there were other boats ahead of us, and not enough spots to anchor.  We decided to stay at the marina, which worked out really well.  We are quite comfortable here.

Here are a few pics!

Shrimp Boats

Spooner's Marina

This Scarab has a hard top and 3 motors!

Kitten Wake - Yes, she passed me!

Waiting for Onslow Bridge to open

The Pink House.

First Day and Heading North!

Annabelle at her home slip, ready to go.

Dean and I left Southport with a bang, yesterday morning.  At 9:00, as we were pulling out of our slip, next to the ramp, an outboard motor on a fishing boat exploded.  The engine cover was blown off, and there was fire in the engine, as well as in the water around the engine.  We backed over to the ramp and offered our fire extinguisher, which was not needed.  As quickly as the fire started, it burned itself out.  Our hearts were racing... and we headed to the fuel dock.

At 9:30, we left the fuel dock with Jim and Wendy, on Bluenoser, waiting for us at the opening. We pulled out into the ICW, then headed into the Cape Fear River, where Mark and Jane met us, on Average Looper.  From there, we headed up a very choppy river, with the North winds blowing against us, to Snow's Cut, then up the ICW.  At Wrightsville, Dean stepped onto Bluenoser, and left me to handle my boat on my own.
Average Looper, followed by Bluenoser

Annabelle, as seen from Average Looper
 As we headed north to Hampstead, the weather improved.  The winds subsided, and we arrived at our marina for the night around 2:45.  Today, we will be heading further north towards Morehead City and Beaufort.  We are hoping to stay at an anchorage this side of Morehead City.  Then, we want to anchor out at Shackleford banks, to see the wild horses.

View from my boat this morning.

Average Looper at Sunrise, this morning - taken from my boat.  Ignore the center console in front of her.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Preparing for this trip has been quite the undertaking, and I am fortunate to have so many friends who support me in my endeavors.  Barb, from my Zumba class, threw me a Bon Voyage party at her beach house.  Shirley, another friend is having a Bon Voyage dinner tonight.  While in Arizona, people I work with threw parties for me as well.

I feel fortunate for all the people who have been in my life and have been so wonderful.

Thank you!

In addition to all my friends in Southport and Arizona, I have  had the opportunity to meet other Loopers, Sailors, and random strangers, supportive of this adventure.

There are a few last minute details, which need to be taken care of.  My boat, Annabelle, is finally starting to feel more like a home.  Everything is getting put away.  I am waiting for a part for my engine, and it should be here Monday.  Sometimes, things come down to the wire.  The schedule for leaving Tuesday may change, depending on the weather.  A couple days ago it was looking good, but today it is not.  We will see!  There are no schedules on the loop... weather can change things.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ten days and counting down

I can't believe I am leaving in ten days!  This has been a busy week.  Last Monday was my last day of work in Nogales, AZ.  I finished up in Douglas on the 27th.  I love the people I work with!  Tuesday, I spent the day flying home.  Wednesday, I actually finished up the work from Monday. Thursday I only got one text from work.  Friday... no work.  We will see what Monday brings.  It might be me, but the concept of NOT working is surreal.

My future neighbors moved into my house, before I got back from Arizona.  I am so fortunate to have them living here. I must admit, it feels a little strange coming home to Beth and Glen.  Glen has already fixed some things in my house, including things I didn't even know needed fixing.  Beth has been taking my dog out for walks.  My friends, Mark and Jane, pointed out to me, while they were dog-sitting and house-sitting, that my dog only hides out in my office, while I am here.  All this time  I thought my dog liked to hide out in my office.  However, she was just trying to keep me company, while I hid out in my office!

I have been spending my days at the boat, or working on the boat.  The never-ending-list continues to grow, no matter how much I get done.  I have upgraded my chartplotter, radar, and numerous other things on my boat. My friend, Richard, sold my old equipment.  Mark from the Average Looper, installed my new electronics.  I would like to say he helped me, but really, I helped him.  I have made it easier to open the hatches, by installing sailing mast steps (because I am so short).  I have new blinds and am working on the front window coverings.  Tim (Tim's Towers) made me the best ever aluminum top to replace my bimini, and a crane for my dinghy outboard motor.  Now, he is making a hard, aluminum frame for the outboard to make it easier to maneuver with the crane. Smitty (Signs of Distinction), did some vinyl magic for my throwable flotation device.  It couldn't be prettier!  I passed my Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel inspection and have my sticker.  I am still working on adding ballast to the front, starboard side.  I have some ideas.  My 200 hour service will be done Monday by Zimmerman Marine, and my bottom cleaning and zincs will be done next week.  Justin, who does the bottom cleaning, will also be upgrading my bow and stern thruster propellers.

My goal is to move out of my house and onto my boat by next Tuesday.  I am sure there will be many more trips between my house and my boat.  Fortunately, it is only a mile or two.

OMG, did I say Tuesday?  THREE days????  YIKES!

One last thing... Dean is back.  His half-loop adventure, from New Orleans to Annapolis, didn't work out the way he had planned.  All is good with him and the owner of the sailboat.  I look forward to meeting her in Annapolis.