Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Captain John Smith here providing Eric a much deserved sabbatical after chronicling the travels of Still Waters II up the Atlantic ICW. He also ran into his son Leifr Eiriksson at the Newport News Mariner’s Museum and has decided to hang with him for a while. Since I have explored most of the area the crew is headed, I agreed to take over the reporting on the adventures of the crew.
In fact, there is now a Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail that recreates the adventures of 1607 – 1609 as I mapped 3,000 miles of the Bay and rivers. Visit smithtrail.net to explore more of the trail on your own.
The Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System was launched back in 2007. The buoys are placed along the water trail that we will be following. The first buoy placed was the Jamestown marker to commemorate the 400th anniversary of my initial explorations of the Chesapeake Bay. There are a total of ten markers now that make up the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The crew is planning on cruising all ten locations.
You can access the information from the buoys anytime by dialing a buoy (877-Buoy Bay) and follow the prompts or log on to the website (buoybay.noaa.gov) to learn more about the areas that we will be cruising together. If using the website, then select a buoy, and then select the “information” to read or listen to the info.
The first buoy we encountered was at Norfolk. The Norfolk buoy gives some history of my explorations of the Elizabeth River back in September 1608. There is also a piece on the war of 1812, Geography info, and some seasonal information.
The second buoy we encountered was at First Landing. I first stopped here back on April 26, 1607. We tried to establish Fort Henry here but were unsuccessful. We decided to move further upstream and finally settled at Jamestown on May 14, 1607.
The third buoy we encountered gives the history of our struggles to make a go of it at Jamestowne. The crew visited historic Jamestowne and got to walk the same ground as I. Initially 104 colonists started the settlement. The walls of our fort made a triangle with two walls 100 yards long, and the third wall 140 yards long around the river front.
An additional 600 colonists migrated to the fort by the end of 1609. In 1610 an additional set of colonists arrived to find only 60 survivors. The visitor center hints that the area was in an eight year drought. Living on the island with little to no fresh water took its toll. Interesting to note that until 1610 all colonists were men. The 1610 colonists included 90 unmarried women. Seems things started to go better after 1610, go figure.
Jamestown may have been the birthplace of America, but Yorktown was where she won her independence.
The Visitor Center gave a superb overview of the build-up and eventual siege that took place at Yorktown. After viewing the displays and films at the Visitor Center, the crew took the driving tour of the actual battlegrounds. Many of the trenches and battle areas are still preserved.
The wheels finally came off in 1781 for the British when they concluded that they would lose the northern colonies but would make a run at saving the southern colonies for the crown. The British believed that if they built a port on the lower Chesapeake and controlled Virginia that the remaining southern colonies would stay with British rule. Cornwallis decided on Yorktown for the port, and began to fortify the area.
Unfortunately for the British, the French had joined with the Americans. The French Navy defeated the British Navy at the mouth of the Chesapeake and prevented additional supplies for Cornwallis. With this victory, the Americans began a troop build-up with the aid of France. Cornwallis was basically surrounded with only an escape route over the York River. Standing on the shore of Yorktown, it is about two miles across the river to the north shore.
After two days of heavy cannon pounding, the British tried to escape over the York River. They lost most of the boats and the men in them on the first crossing. The weather and wind were not in the favor of the British. With no escape route, Lord Cornwallis finally surrendered.
A couple of interesting things about the surrender that the skipper had forgotten from days gone by:
On Sunday, September 6th, the crew set out on a mermaid hunt. The city of Norfolk has made the mermaid their official mascot. Originally about 130 mermaids were created and auctioned off by the city. Now 25 of these mermaids are within walking distance of the waterfront.
The crew was successful in locating 22 of 25 mermaids.
On Monday, September 7th, the crew went to visit the Newport News Mariner’s Museum. To do this collection justice, it is probably a two day visit. The crew only had one day so they skipped a couple of 3D movies and exhibits.
The museum did reinforce a belief of the skipper though….”the victors get to write the history books.” In this case the north gets to tell the story of the Navy battle between the Monitor and Merrimack. The Virginians running the museum are quick to point out that the battle was between the Monitor and the CSS Virginia.
The union troops sank the Merrimack as they were leaving Norfolk at the beginning of the war. The south raised her and re-fitted her as an iron clad. Also gave her a new name, the CSS Virginia.
The museum does a superb job of telling the story of the battle that changed navy vessels and navy warfare. The two day battle shaped navy vessels (no more wooden ships) and navy tactics that are still used today.
With the Labor Day weekend winding down, the crew returned to their ship and began making plans for the next leg of their journey. Weather permitting, they plan to cruise the Chesapeake Bay up to the northern reaches. They will start with a side trip to Washington D.C. up the Potomac River.
Chesapeake Bay Fun Facts:
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here reporting on the run to Elizabeth City, North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia.
The crew left Hertford, North Carolina on September 1st and made their way to Elizabeth City. The next morning the crew entered the Dismal Swamp and spent the night at the Visitor Center dock. On Thursday, the crew finished off the Dismal Swamp, made their way to Norfolk, circled the navigational aid Red Buoy #36, and then docked at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk.
The crew decided to have an extended stay in Norfolk over the holiday weekend and let the crazy people enjoy the water while the crew stayed safely tied to the dock.
Run to Elizabeth City
After leaving the dock at Hertford at 0900, the crew spent 3.5 hours dodging those nasty crab pots in the river and sound. By 1220 the crew had made it out of the Albemarle Sound and into the Pasquotank River. Then 20 minutes later they rejoined the ICW at mile 65 officially ending the side trip around the Albemarle Sound.
There were some interesting sites to behold on the way to Elizabeth City. Most interesting was the Blimp Air Field. The crew spotted a strange building on the horizon which eventually showed itself to be a blimp hanger.
Upon arrival in Elizabeth City, the crew strolled around the waterfront. At 1800 they were entertained by a local band for two hours, as the town came out to enjoy a concert in the park.
The town lived up to their nickname, “Harbor of Hospitality.”
Though the mate was hoping for 5 boats to be in town so she could get a rose, Still Waters II was only one of two boats docked, so no rose this trip.
Run to Dismal Swamp Visitor Center
On Wednesday September 2, the crew went to the local Mariner Museum and then headed out to the Dismal Swamp. The only thing more dismal than the swamp was the Texas Longhorn’s showing against the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Looks to be another loooooooooooong season for the burnt orange fans such as the skipper.
The trip up the swamp took a little planning to time scheduled bridge and lock openings. The crew left about 1220 and needed to be at the South Mills Lock before 1530 to make the last opening of the day. The skipper knew the time and distance and used that info to calculate the speed needed to make the opening.
The skipper padded the calculation a little and the crew arrived 30 minutes before the lock opening. Plenty of time to set the fenders and ropes to pass through the lock. The trip through the lock raised Still Waters II about 12 feet.
The same person operates both the lock and the South Mills Bridge. So after opening the lock gates the bridge tender jumped in his truck and raced down to the bridge to open it so as not to cause any delays on the water. As usual though, plenty of delays for car traffic as they wait for the bridge to close so they can get on down the road.
Just 5 more miles of swamp and the crew arrived at the Visitor Center. There were already 2 boats tied to the dock, but there was plenty of room to dock on the north end past a 26 foot sailboat. The sailboat captain jumped up and helped the mate secure Still Waters II to the dock.
Run to Norfolk
The crew spent the morning exploring the Dismal Swamp Park and Visitor Center. However, they needed to get back on the water so they could make the bridge and lock openings again. They shoved off about noon, and thirty minutes later they passed into Virginia.
The crew arrived at the Deep Creek Bridge about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. Just south of the bridge on the east bank was a large concrete structure with cleats attached. So what do you do when you need to wait 40 minutes for the bridge to open?
Duh, you tie up to the structure, run across the street to Hardees, and order vanilla shakes for the crew. Then buy a watermelon from the guy sitting on the corner in his pick-up truck. Yes, that is exactly what you do!!!
After making it passed the bridge and through the lock, it was another two hours to Norfolk. There was very little traffic on the Elizabeth River on the run up to Norfolk, but there was plenty of activity along the water front.
Before entering the Waterside Side Marina in Norfolk, the crew went a little further up river and rounded Red Buoy #36.
This buoy is mile marker “0” for the beginning of the Atlantic ICW. The crew was pretty excited that they had actually made it all the way from Fort Myers, Florida.
The crew would like to thank the virtual crew members who have completed this leg of the journey from the safety of their electronic devices. Your words of encouragement keep the crew going strong.
The crew will take shore excursions to visit Jamestown, Yorktown, and the National Mariner’s Museum over the Labor Day weekend, then start the next leg of the journey on the famed Chesapeake Bay next week.
Wildlife sequence – Osprey catching fish
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here reporting on the completion of the Albemarle Sound Loop side trip. The hospitality of the marinas and town folks has been overwhelming.
The original float plan has been altered, and the new course after leaving Plymouth is to cruise to Columbia and then on to Hertford. After Hertford, the crew will go back to the ICW and head to Norfolk (mile 0) via the Dismal Swamp Route.
The run over to Columbia was very rough on Thursday, August 27th. The wind was out of the east and blowing directly down the sound. Unfortunately for the crew, east was the direction they needed to head after leaving the Roanoke River.
The only good news is that the rough ride was short because the run only took 4 hours.
Upon arriving in Columbia, the crew walked around town. On the side of one of the buildings is a painting. Not so unusual. However, within the painting are 10 hidden animals that can be seen around the area. The crew spent about an hour looking the picture over and found 8 of 10 of the animals.
On Friday morning the crew walked over to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and wandered around the boardwalk.
If you are like the skipper, you may be wondering, ‘what in the world is a Pocosin?” The crew learned that a Pocosin is a swamp on a hill. The term hill is used loosely here, can be just a few feet rise from the coastal waters.
The refuge was very peaceful. One section of the mile long boardwalk was closed and the entrance was guarded by a large spider. There were many large spiders along the walk. There must be lots of bugs in the swamp to grow such spiders.
Completing the boardwalk, the crew saw many large spiders, turtles, and a rare woodpecker. The skipper heard the woodpecker, but it took almost ten minutes to locate the little bird. He was darting in and out of a hole in a tree. Great way to spend the morning.
The crew then wandered back over to the painting and found the last two hidden animals. After lunch, it was time to shop the town down and provision for the next week of the journey.
On Saturday, August 29th, the crew motored over to Hertford, North Carolina. The Sound was up to its usual tricks. The wind was out of the east again but the waves were confused and seemed to be coming from every direction. It took a couple of hours to cross but luckily once in the river the waves calmed down. Then it was back to dodging crab traps.
The skipper says he would not want to be a crab in these waters because with so many crap pots it would be impossible to move around without getting caught. Lucky for the crabbers, one female has about 2 million little crabs per brood.
The marina docks in Hertford are brand new and have not been used much by larger vessels. This was apparent as the crew came into the harbor at the end of the river.
The last S swing bridge in the country guards the entry. The bridge tender stopped the traffic and swung the bridge open. The drivers of the stopped cars were getting out of their cars and taking pictures as the boat passed through the bridge. Even the bridge tender was taking pictures. Once docked, a man showed up from the newspaper and interviewed the crew for the local paper. The paper only comes out weekly on Wednesday, and looks like the crew will be the news of the town.
The REAL big deal in Hertford is Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter. For those not in the know, he was born, raised, and died here in Hertford. The skipper is a big baseball fan, and was a big fan of ‘Catfish” Hunter. The Chamber of Commerce houses the museum dedicated to their favorite son.
Tribute to Jim ‘Catfish’ Hunter
Born April 8, 1946, James Augustus Hunter learned to play baseball on his family farm. He claimed that his three older brothers taught him the game. He developed his awesome control by practicing throwing rocks and potatoes through a hole in the family barn. The hole was made by the brothers. They painted an X on the barn, then cut a hole at the center of the X.
He was only 17 and still in high school when he signed his first contract with the flamboyant owner of the Kansas City A’s. His parents had to co-sign the contract. First contract was for $75,000.
His career almost never got started because one of his brothers accidently shot him in the foot with a shotgun. This caused the lose of his big toe, and a delay in his major league start. Charles O Finley, owner of the A’s, sent him to a clinic and covered his medical and rehab cost.
In 1971, he got his first of five consecutive 20 game winning seasons. In 72, he helped win the first of three straight World Series with the A’s. Then in 74 he won the Cy Young Award with 25 wins and an 2.49 ERA.
Following the 74 season, he discovered a clause in his contract that was not honored. Specifically, Charlie O was trying to defer 50% of Hunter’s salary to the next year for tax purposes rather than pay at the end of the season ($50,000). Hunter took the case to arbitration and became the first free agent of the era. A bidding war ensued for his talent (23 of 24 teams made offers), and he eventually decided to sign with the New York Yankees. This contract was the first million dollar contract in sports. He got a 1 million signing bonus and a 3.5 million dollar contract.
In 75, Hunter led the American League with 23 wins and taught the Yankees how to win again.
In 76, Hunter became only the fourth pitcher to win 200 games in the modern era before his 31st birthday. It was also in this time that he was diagnosed with Diabetes and his numbers began to fall off.
From 76-78, he helped lead the Yankees to three straight American League pennants and two World Series championships.
He honored his five year contract with the Yankees and retired back home to Hertford after the 79 season to return to farm life. The locals talk of him sitting in the corner pharmacy signing baseballs for fans with one caveat, they were not to sell the ball for more than $3 because he wanted everyone to have an autographed ball.
In 1987 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In September 1998 he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and a year later he died of complications from ALS on September 9, 1999 at the young age of 53.
Former teammate with the A’s and Yankees, Reggie Jackson described Hunter as a fabulous human being. He was a man of honor. He was a man of loyalty.
George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees who signed Hunter for 3.5 Million, said “We were not winning before Catfish arrived…… He exemplified class and dignity and he taught us how to win.”
Former teammate Lou Piniella said, “Catfish was a very unique guy. If you didn’t know he was making that kind of money, you’d never guess it because he was humble, very reserved about being a star type player. But he told great stories. He had a heck of a sense of humor. When you play with guys like that, you feel blessed.
Best testimony of all is the town folk who speak highly of him and his family. Just another farmer here in town that just happened to play a little ball in between hunting seasons and harvest.
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here reporting on the Albemarle Sound Loop side trip. The sound is 50 miles, east to west. Kitty Hawk is on the east side of the sound on the Outer Banks while Edenton flanks the west side of the sound.
The Albemarle Sound marinas are sponsoring 48 hours of free dockage in each marina. Our crew plans on stopping in 4 of the 6 participating marinas.
The float plan is to travel from Alligator River Marina to Edenton Harbor Marina, then to Plymouth Landing Marina, then to Albemarle Plantation Marina, and lastly the Elizabeth City Mariners’ Warf.
Edenton Harbor Marina
The trip to the west end of the sound took 5 hours and 20 minutes. The scenery did not change much as they were surrounded by water and distant views of land.
The challenge of navigating these waters were all the crab pots in the water. Each crab pot is marked by a floating buoy. Depending on the color of the buoy, some are easier to see than others. The orange buoys are the easiest to spot. The white ones are difficult when the waves are white capping. The blues and greens are tough to see, and the skipper seems to spot them within yards of the boat. Took the skipper and the mate watching to keep the vessel out of trouble. One crab pot tangled up in the prop equals a bad day cruising.
Upon the approach to town there is a 65 foot vertical bridge that spans the sound. The bridge is 4 miles long from shore to shore. When the crew first saw the bridge, they could see the 65 foot portion but not the rest of the bridge. Looked interesting to see a bridge to nowhere.
Once safely in Edenton, the crew walked around town to see the sights and learn the history of the town.
The town was first settled back in 1658 by some folks who left Jamestown, Virginia. The site became the first permanent settlement in North Carolina. The town was incorporated back in 1722. Edenton was actually the capital of North Carolina from 1722 to 1743
In 1774 Edenton had their own Tea Party. Penelope Barker led a group of 51 women in a boycott of English Tea. The London papers described the women as uncontrollable. The Barker House is on the waterfront and available for touring.
During the civil war the town melted down the church bells to cast 4 cannons. The town was conquered early in the war and the “Edenton Bell Battery” was taken for use by union troops. Following the war, 2 of the 4 cannons were returned and now reside by the Barker House.
The last point of interest that the crew visited was the Roanoke River Lighthouse. This is actually the third Lighthouse built. After decommissioning in 1955, Emmett Wiggins moved the structure from the Roanoke River to Edenton to use as a personal residence.
But the thing that will be most remembered by the crew will be the May Fly invasion. The morning after arriving in the marina the boat was covered by thousands of May Flies. Worse yet, when they died they left a green spot from the algae they had been eating. Needless to say, after weeks of cleaning and getting the boat looking ship shape, the bug invasion has left Still Waters II looking more like a spider café. The dead bugs and green spots will take more than a few days to clean up, but heck, what else were the crew going to do?
The run over to Plymouth took about 2 hours. The wind was out of the north so the crew rode the waves with the wind on the stern of the boat. When they turned west to enter the Roanoke River, the crew took a few hard rolls as the wind and waves were directed at the beam of the boat. They quickly entered the mouth of the river and all was calm.
The 4 mile run up river was beautiful. Cypress trees initially line the banks of the river. Hard woods line the river bank by the time the marina is reached.
There was a fishing tournament in progress and the bass boats were flying up and down the river. Someone should tell these guys you have to have a line in the water to catch fish.
Once docked, the crew learned the fish weigh in was only a quarter mile down river so they walked down to observe the process. The tournament was sponsored by the Greenville Bass Club and had 60 boats participating in the tournament. From 3 to 3:30 the fisherman began bringing in the catch. Most boats had 5 bass with a total weight around 15 pounds.
The big bass winner was 7 lbs 11 oz, and this team also won first prize for total weight of exactly 20 lbs. The hardest part of observing the weigh in was watching the fisherman go release the fish back in the river. Seems our skipper is a catch and release fisherman also, he just prefers to release fish into hot oil.
Just next to the marina is a replica of the Roanoke River Lighthouse. Remember the ‘real’ one is over in Edenton Harbor. Seems a little odd that the community on the Roanoke River has the replica and their rival town has the real deal. The skipper asked the Dock Master about the replica and got an ear full about the situation. Looks like the skipper stepped on a raw nerve with that question.
Plymouth, North Carolina has a rich 400 year heritage. Robert Lane was the first European in the area back in 1584. By 1680, people began settling in the area. The town of Plymouth was established in 1787 and by 1857 it was one of six major ports in North Carolina. The town was also one of two ports of entry in North Carolina so it had a Customs House on Water Street.
Due to the strategic location of Plymouth, the Civil War saw plenty of action in the area. The Union forces occupied the town early in the war. In April 1864 the confederates won their last major victory of the war by retaking the town. The CSS Albemarle was crucial in the victory by sinking the USS Southfield.
However, it was a short lived victory. In October of 1864, the CSS Albemarle was sunk and the Federal Army was able to retake the town.
The little town is working hard to revive its past to lure tourist to the area. The crew agrees with the Plymouth travel brochure that the area is a great place to come visit, relax, prop your feet up, soak up the history, and enjoy the natural experience.
Speaking of natural experience, one unexpected find in the town was the God’s Creation Wildlife Museum. A business man in town has been hunting all over the world. He has some of his mounts on display. A lady in the office gave us a guided tour of each of the four galleries. This was a real treat and well worth the stop.
Go to WWW.wildlifemuseum.net for a virtual tour of the museum.
The only constant in this world seems to be change. Yes the crew has changed their plans again. They have met some other cruisers who have recommended a stop in Columbia, so the crew is adding the stop to the Albemarle Sound loop.
They called ahead on Tuesday, but the marina did not have a spot for them. Supposedly, a boat is leaving Wednesday morning from Columbia. If so, the crew will head over and check the little town out. Little is probably an overstatement. Last census in 2010 shows a population of 900 folks.
Local Factoid – The weather in the area does not get cold enough for the black bears to hibernate so they enjoy the local cornfields and other crops year round leading to the record sizes of bears in these woods.
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here with the latest update on the north migration of Still Waters II and crew.
On Tuesday, August 18th, the crew left the little charming town of Oriental (population 900 in the 2010 census) and headed towards Belhaven, NC.
The crew was met with returning shrimp boats once they got out of the harbor. The wind was calm and the large Neuse River looked like glass. They found the Neuse River Junction with ease and made a left hand turn up the Bay River for 5 miles.
Then it was another 5 miles up Gale Creek and Upper Spring Creek. The skipper gets a kick out of these names. He says a creek back in Texas is usually dry in the summer and can easily be jumped over when full. These creeks in the Carolina’s are at least a half mile wide, the rivers are miles wide, and the sounds look like oceans. So much for everything is bigger in Texas.
Five miles up Goose Creek dumped the crew into the Pamlico River. It was 5 miles wide and led to the Pungo River. It was 10 miles up the Pungo River when they reached Belhaven. The crew decided to travel another 10 miles up-river and anchor for the evening at the mouth of the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal.
This canal was the last link of the ICW to open, which completed the Atlantic Inter Coastal Waterway back in September 1928. Belhaven, the closest town, was the center of celebration to dedicate the opening. Belhaven is the self – proclaimed “Birthplace of the ICW.”
On Wednesday, August 19th, the skipper was up about 0630 reading on the sundeck when a little fishing boat came darting by way to close. The fishermen were yelling “Time to wake up, Time to wake up.” The fishermen did not notice the skipper until he waved at them. They immediately moved further away and quit yelling. The skipper thinks these two are future Darwin Award winners.
The 20 miles through the canal were uneventful but beautiful. The skipper had a keen eye out for deer and black bear but saw none. The crew did spot 2 flocks of turkeys and 1 bald eagle though.
As they exited the canal they entered the Alligator River. The crew was provided their own private air show while cruising the river. Two military jets were performing maneuvers overhead. The jets would fly by, make an arcing u turn, fly into the distance, perform an aerial 360 degree loop and then buzz by Still Waters II at a low altitude. They performed this routine 4-5 times before finally disappearing in the horizon.
The crew’s timing for docking was perfect. The marina is known for its hamburgers cooked by Ms Wanda and the crew was looking forward to taste testing the burger. For some unknown reason, the marina store closed at 1500 rather than the usual 1800. The crew got tied up at the dock about 1400 and went over and ordered burgers. The dock hand had told the crew that Ms Wanda was closing the grill at 1430. She did an excellent job of grilling the burgers and the crew was happy that they made it in time for last call.
Still Waters II was the only vessel in the marina. This marina is geared for transient boaters making the spring and fall runs up and down the east coast. Looks to be a peaceful night in North Carolina.
Nothing could be finer
Than being in Carolina
In the morning…………
Next on the agenda is to cruise the Albemarle Sound. The crew will divert off of the ICW and head over to Edenton, NC. They will then work their way back east to Elizabeth City and prepare for the Dismal Swamp run.
Eric is delighted to share a blog entry by Jessica. The following are her words and reflections of her adventure on Still Waters II………..
I arrived aboard Still Waters II on the evening of August 8th in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Having only been on a boat 2 other times in my life, I had no clue what I was in for. All I knew was I was in need of a vacation, I had never been to the Carolina’s, and I love to fish.
Never in a million years did I think I was about to experience the most relaxing, and enjoyable vacation I have had in a long time.
On August 9th we pulled out of Myrtle Beach and headed north.
After sitting up in the helm with David and Claudia for about an hour, I began to learn about the boating life style. I learned about the red and green makers to keep you on course. Red meaning it is the side closest to the heartland and if there is a small triangle in it you are in the ICW (Inter-coastal Waterway).
After a few hours David asked me if I wanted a turn at the wheel. I was like heck yeah! In the back of my head thinking I’m about to speed this sucker up because you are going way too slow and people are passing us! I quickly learned that you actually have to pay attention to where you are going because depths of water change rapidly and that going slower saves gas. Whamp. Whamp!
During my week aboard, I learned how to tie knots, help dock the boat, and pilot the boat all while taking in the sights. I did have a mishap while fishing one night. Somehow while reaching down to grab some bait, I managed to drop my polarized Rayban sunglasses to the bottom of the marina. Rookie mistake!
Eric editorial comment – Jessica thought about diving for her glasses. The water was only about 7 feet deep. But then she remembered the gator in the water and decided the gator could keep the glasses.
When we arrived in Ocracoke, NC, I learned about Blackbeard and that we were staying in the waters that he pirated.
The night before I left, David got us a fishing charter and I got to reel in a 30″ Red Drum!
I had a blast aboard Still Waters II. I think I have found a new love and now all I need to do is figure out how to make enough money to retire, buy a boat, and join them along Americas Great Loop.
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here providing the latest update on Still Waters II, and crew. After seeing Jessica off on her trip back to Texas, the crew took a 2.5 hour cruise up to Cape Hatteras. On Saturday, it was all about being a tourist and sight-seeing. Then on Sunday it was a cruise back across the Pamlico Sound to the little town of Oriental. A one day layover in Oriental, and the crew will be back on the ICW headed to Norfolk, Virginia.
The ride to Cape Hatteras was much rougher than the trip to Ocracoke Island. The seas were a consistent 3-5 feet, with the occasional 7-8 foot waves. Lucky for the crew, it was only a short distance. They docked at the Hatteras Village Marina, which is more fishing camp than marina. The docking was a bit challenging though.
The wind was blowing unobstructed right down the marina. When the skipper turned the vessel towards the slip to back in, the wind immediately broad sided the boat and pushed her out of the area to get into the slip. After 2 tries, the marina took pity on the skipper and allowed him to pull into a wider slip which made for easier dockage. The skipper made it into the new slip on the first try. After getting the boat secured, water, and electrical hook-ups completed, the crew strolled around the village to see the sites.
On Saturday, August 15th, the crew rented a Jeep from Island Cruisers and spent the day exploring the Outer Banks (OBX) as the locals refer to the area.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
This lighthouse has probably become the most famous in the nation since the civil engineering marvel of moving the lighthouse back in 1999. The lighthouse was built back in 1870 and is the second tallest lighthouse in the world.
Rufuge Visitor Center at Pea Island
This was an interesting stop. The visitor center sits beside some natural fresh water ponds. Because of the fresh water, the ponds attract hundreds of birds. The visitor center and trail had several telescopes set up for bird viewing.
Across the road from the visitor center, a ship wreck is visible just off of the beach. Our crew took the time to go look at the shipwreck and pick up a few sea shells.
This area is called the Graveyard to the Atlantic due to the number of shipwrecks just off of the coast. About 600 wrecks are here due to shallow shoals, storms, and war.
Another interesting bit of info comes from the name of the Island. The birds eat a little pea that grows in the bushes in the marsh. The peas are not eatable by humans, and if you try to plant them in a planter the plant will die. Seems the plant needs the shifting sand around their roots to survive.
There is a large boulder placed where the first powered plane took off. The brothers made 4 flights on December 17, 1903. There is a marker showing the distance of each of the 4 flights.
To make it to the point of powered flight, the brothers flew thousands of glider flights off of Kill Devil Hill in 1900 and 1901. At the top of the hill, there is a monument to the brother’s achievements. Back in the day, the brothers had to carry the glider up the sand dune. Luckily they have planted grass and built a sidewalk to make the climb easy for visitors.
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric here providing the latest update on Still Waters II, crew and guest. Since the last update, the crew traveled to mile 170 on the inner coastal waterway, then took off for a side trip to the outer banks of North Carolina.
The run consisted of four days of travel with stops at Bald Head Island Marina, anchorage near Wrightsville, dock in Morehead at Port Side Marina, and finally the National Park Service dock at Ockracoke Island.
As always, there are new challenges and things to learn along the way. These last few days have provided plenty of opportunity to learn for our crew.
Run to Bald Head Island
The crew left North Myrtle Beach on Sunday, August 9, at 0919. In less than 5 minutes they were at the Barefoot Landing Bridge and made their way on up the narrow rock pile.
The crew entered into North Carolina at 1055 near the Little River Inlet. The skipper began to give the passenger, Jessica, a few lessons in navigating the waterway. She is a quick study, and by lunch she was behind the wheel guiding the boat northward.
At the Lockwoods Folly Inlet, the water depth suddenly went from 10 feet to less than 4 as the boat glided over a shoal. The young skipper in training responded quickly and got the engines in idle and there was only a slight bump as they made way for deeper water. Jessica made a comment that the water sure changed depth quickly. These inlets are always a little tricky as they bring in sand from the ocean. Once again reinforcing the need for constant vigilance at the helm.
Rather than stay in Southport, the crew decided to venture off of the ICW and make the 2 mile side trip to Bald Head Island. The decision was rewarded with a nice evening of walking and exploring the sites, a surprise alligator in the marina, ice cream and fishing. The fishing was not as productive as hoped for, but lots of small fish were caught and two croaker were actually large enough to keep and fillet.
The mate broke out the tape measure and announced that Jessica’s croaker was larger than the skipper’s croaker. There is an official appeal submitted because the skipper did not witness the “official” measurement.
Run to Top Sail Beach
On Monday, August 10th, the crew left the dock at 0930 and headed north. The days challenge would be trying to meet the bridge schedule. There are two bridges in the path that must be opened, but these bridges open on a schedule. If you are not there on time you get to wait for the next opening.
The skipper calculated the distance and speed needed to make the Wrightsville Beach Bridge for the 1300 opening. Unfortunately he missed the opening by about 5 minutes. They were at the end of the line to pass through the bridge and when they were about a hundred yards from the bridge, the bridge tender decided to close the bridge (time 1315). The mate and passenger both urged the skipper to gun it and make it through, but the skipper backed off and they toured Wrightsville by water while killing the hour for the next bridge opening.
They were the second boat through for the 1400 bridge opening, but now needed to make the 8 miles to the Figure Eight Island Swing Bridge for its scheduled opening on the hour and half hour.
As they approached the Figure Eight Island Swing Bridge the mate looked at the time and announced that they only had 2 minutes before the opening, but based on their location, it looked like they would miss the 1430 opening. The skipper made a quick calculation and announced that they would make the distance in 2 minutes. This proclamation was met with doubt and a few off color comments. The skipper gave the engines more throttle and the engines responded. In moments she was up and planning at 16 knots. Jessica had a look of surprise at the speed after 2 days of 7 knots. Needless to say, they easily closed the distance and had to actually wait for the bridge to open.
Jessica took the wheel again for the last two hours of the cruise and guided our crew to the eventual anchor spot at Top Sail Beach. The crew got the anchor to hold on the first try, and spent the rest of the evening fishing.
It was an interesting time of fishing. The caught a couple of small black tip sharks, a puffer fish, many spot fish and croaker, and one sting ray. Unfortunately, nothing was large enough to fillet so it was all catch and release.
Run to Port Side Marina in Morehead
On Tuesday, August 11th, the crew pulled anchor at 0925 and headed north. The days cruise was mostly in the narrow channel, interrupted occasionally by inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. Inlets included the New River Inlet, Browns Inlet, Bear Inlet, and Bogue Inlet on the approach to Swansboro. The crew stopped at Casper Marina in Swansboro to fuel and decide their next move. The weather was building and storms were on the way.
After fueling they made the decision to continue onward 30 miles so that they could be in a position to cross the Pamlico Sound if the weather was good on Wednesday. As they headed north, they seemed to stay just on the edge of the storm and keep in light rain. Jessica took the wheel again for a few hours and guided the crew through the Bogue Sound in the wind and choppy seas. As they approached the marina, the skipper took the helm and the crew readied the boat for docking.
The wind was building and the skipper requested a starboard side tie and easy docking. It seems the dock master and skipper have a different opinion of what an easy dockage looks like. The dock master directed them to back into a slip with the wind and current pushing the boat away from the dock.
On the first try, the skipper backed alongside the dock and made the right turn into the slip, but the wind and current quickly moved them too far off of the dock to get lines to the dock hand. The skipper pulled forward, lined up again and started backing up and making the turn. They were closer to success but still unable to get the lines over to the dock hand.
On the third try, the skipper maneuvered the boat within a foot of the dock and a 72 foot Nordhaven yacht before making the turn to the slip. Lines were tossed and the dock hand got the boat secured to the dock. As the crew completed docking the wind really began to howl and the waves were crashing over the dock. Good thing they got in when they did.
They waited 2 hours for the storm to pass then walked down to the local tavern for more fish, shrimp, and chips. After dinner, they walked back to the boat and within minutes another storm blew in. The 72 foot Nordhaven was blocking most of the wind and wave action but it was still a rocky night on the water.
While passing the time waiting to get to eat, Jessica googled up the 72 foot Nordhaven, Shear Madness, next to Still Waters II and found their blog, shearmadness72. Check it out to see how the truly wealthy handle the struggles of sea.
Run to Ocracoke Island
The morning was spent trying to figure out the next move. It is getting time for Jessica to head back to Texas so an exit strategy needed to be determined. After numerous searches, a workable plan was developed and a cruising schedule to match was made.
The crew left the dock at 0950 and headed for the Newport River, then Core Creek, and then Adams Creek. While passing through Adams Creek the crew met a south bound boat headed for Matagorda Bay. The boat was brand new, built in Rhode Island, and the captain was taking her to her new home in Texas.
After passing Oriental the crew headed out into the Pamlico Sound. The waterway guide states that Oriental is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. As you look out from this point you see the earth fall away out across the sound. As the crew ventured further out into the Sound, there was a time that land was barely visible in only one direction. Eventually land was spotted and the crew found the inlet to the marina. Upon entering into Silver Lake, they motored to the National Park Service dock, but it looked full. This area is first come first serve. There was one hole left open but the skipper did not think it was long enough for them to fit into. They motored around the small lake and found all the marinas full.
They headed back over to the Park Service to re-survey the one spot that was available. They crept up to the spot and pushed the bow up to the corner of the pier. You know it will be an interesting docking when you draw a crowd on your approach. Jessica jumped off the boat and secured the bow. The skipper then used port reverse on the port main engine to swing the stern up along the dock. They had a whole three feet of clearance to the boat just aft of them once they got squeezed into the dock. The crowd dispersed disappointed with no damage, but amazed that they shoe horned her into the dock.
Shore Excursion Ocracoke
Thursday was spent exploring the island. They first went and visited a British cemetery. Four British sailors who washed ashore after the sinking of the HMS Bedfordshire are buried in the cemetery. British tradition dictates that the sailors be buried on British soil. The small graveyard is leased by Great Britain, and cared for by the US Coast Guard. The British flag fly’s overhead and the ground is technically British soil.
Next up was the Ocracoke Lighthouse. The crew pedaled over to the lighthouse which was built in 1818.
They then pedaled out to the 15 miles of unspoiled beaches. The water was a pretty green turquoise and the beach was a brownish sand.
Last stop was the Teach’s Hole Blackbeard Museum. Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard the Pirate spent most of his time in these waters. After 2 years of serious pirating, the authorities finally killed him off of Springer Point.
On the way back to Still Waters II, the crew rolled into SmackNally’s for a late lunch. While eating, the skipper noticed one of the charter boat captain’s had an opening for an evening of red drum fishing. They signed up for the charter and fished from 1830 to 2300. Unfortunately they did more fishing than catching. However, the good news to report is that Jessica caught her first red drum. He was 30 inches long and over the slot limit in North Carolina, so back in the water he went. That was the only fish they caught, but it was an exciting evening of fishing. And as the skipper likes to say, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”
Time to say Goodbye
Friday morning, Jessica got up at 0600 and prepared to depart. She left Still Waters II at 0645 and walked over to the ferry. She took the 3 hour ferry ride back to the mainland, and then caught a shuttle service to Greenville. On Saturday, she will fly back to San Antonio and get ready for another year of coaching at the University of Texas San Antonio.
In her short time onboard she mastered piloting the boat, knot tying, and all around deck hand duties. The mate will certainly miss her help during docking and undocking.
As for our crew that took a very rough 3 hour ride over to Hatteras Island and docked at the Village Marina. The wind was strong out of the north and whipped up 3-5 foot waves, with occasional 7-8 footers. The crew was glad to get back into port and relax after the rolling water roller coaster ride.
But, Just another day in paradise!
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members!
Eric dropping in to update you on the latest run to Myrtle Beach. Seems there is an abundance of activities here in Barefoot Landing and I have been busy taking in the sites with the crew. In addition, the skipper’s son showed up Saturday with Nikki and Abbie for a day cruise. Lastly, the mystery guest arrived and is on board and ready to cruise north with the crew.
The run from Charleston to North Myrtle Beach was a total of 118 miles over two days, including 11 bridges, a fuel stop in Georgetown, and an anchorage.
The crew left Charleston on Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 0915. The course out of the harbor allowed a view of the historic homes along the water front as well as an interesting view of Ft Sumter from the boat.
After crossing the harbor the crew entered Sullivan Island Narrows. As the name implies, this is a narrow cut. In fact much of the day would be spent in these narrow cuts with places with names like Four Mile Creek Canal, Estherville Minim Creek Canal, and Western Channel. As usual, the skipper maintained a constant vigil and navigated these waters with ease. (Never mind the fact that he seems not to breathe often and spends much time all tensed up.)
A mid-day decision was made to refuel in Georgetown and press on to Myrtle Beach. The crew will have to put Georgetown on the list of places to stop next time because all reports seem to be very positive on the town.
After fueling, the crew moved north another two hours and finally anchored in Thoroughfare Creek, just off of Waccamaw River at mile 400.
On Thursday morning at 0915, the crew pulled anchor and set off for Barefoot Landing Marina in North Myrtle Beach. This run was gorgeous. The cypress trees with Spanish Moss lined most of the way, and the water was much wider than the narrows from the day before. Also, the wildlife was abundant through this region and kept the skipper’s eyes constantly moving to see what was next.
As the crew began to approach Myrtle Beach, the large homes began to take over the scenery. However, with a nickname of “The Rock Pile” this area required eyes on the water and not much sightseeing. The bottom begins to change from sand and mud to larger and larger rocks. Many a boat has met its end here, but Still Waters II found a clean path to the marina.
Friday was a work day on the boat making final preps for visitors. A five mile bike ride to Home Depot was completed in the morning. Repairs made to several small items. Then a two mile bike ride to the grocery store for final provisioning for this leg of the journey. While out riding the bike, the skipper passed a sign that announced that Vanna White’s home town is North Myrtle Beach. Who would of known.
On Saturday, August 8th, Mike, Nikki, and Abbie showed up for a little day cruise. They managed to stretch the three hour drive from Columbia, SC into five hours so they did not arrive until about noon. They boarded the boat, got their safety briefing, and set off for a short cruise. They went about two hours and then turned around and returned to the marina. They arrived back at the marina and docked at 1610. It was now time to go to the airport and pick up the mystery guest.
Mike drove the skipper to the airport and they picked up Jessica Rogers. She will be spending a few days with the crew as they continue north.
For those not in the know, Jessica is the daughter of Karen Rogers, the skipper’s cousin, who spent many a summer day vacationing with the Fuller family back in the 60’s and 70’s. It is wonderful to carry on the tradition into the next generation. Jessica will be onboard a few days before returning to work when school starts at the University of Texas San Antonio where she is a softball coach.
Welcome aboard Jessica!
Hello fellow adventurers and virtual crew members! Eric here reporting on the latest movements of Still Waters II.
Our crew departed Savannah, GA on Sunday August 2 at 0950 and made way towards Beaufort, S.C. The Savannah River is the border between Georgia and South Carolina, so it did not take long for the crew to venture into their third state. This passage to Beaufort included 2 sounds, 2 bridges, and 48 more miles of rivers bordered by mud and sea grass.
On Monday, August 3, our crew pushed north to the historic town of Charleston, SC. It was only last November that our crew came to Charleston for a one day seminar on the Great Loop, still with a J.O.B. and no boat. My how things have changed in the last 6-8 months. The run to Charleston was 66 miles of rivers interrupted by 5 bridge crossings.
Run to Beaufort Prior to departure, our skipper jumped on the free water taxi and took the round trip on the Savannah River, 3 stops to get back to the beginning. This allowed the skipper to get some shots of Still Waters II tied up along the river front.
Other than the rain that dogged the crew most of the morning, the trip was uneventful. This coastal area of South Carolina is referred to as the ‘low country’. A couple of characteristics of the area is the pungent odor which hangs in the air due to the marsh mud that is exposed at low tide. The second is the endless expanse of marsh grass. As the crew has moved north, the marsh is beginning to be broken with large live oak trees with huge canopies and hanging Spanish moss.
Upon arrival at Beaufort, our crew decided to swing from a mooring ball for the night. They picked T-3, moved in, the mate snagged the line, and the line was not what they were expecting. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.” One consistent thing about boating is everything seems to be different. No universal standards. The skipper quickly looked around the mooring field to see how other boats were tied on while the mate tried to keep the strange mooring line in hand. The skipper developed a strategy and the mate executed without problems. There is a day dock beside the marina that is free to use, so after a few minutes of rest and allowing time for the marina to dock a few boats that all arrived at the same time, the crew motored over to the day dock and went ashore.
They walked down the little town, looked at some historic homes, and did some window shopping. They roll up the welcome mat early on a Sunday evening. They wandered down to the water front park and found a large porch swing and took in the sites. After a bit, they noticed the weather was changing for the worse and more rain was headed their way, so they got back on board the boat and motored back to the mooring ball for the evening. Run to Charleston Just outside the marina where the crew moored, there is a swing bridge that does not operate from 0700 to 0900 to allow people with a J.O.B. to get to work on time without interruption from the boaters. The first opening is at 0900, so the crew followed a sailboat through the bridge at the first opening. Still Waters II followed the sailboat for half a day. After 35 miles, the sailboat made a U-turn and headed back to Beaufort. Our crew pressed on to Charleston. The only real excitement came near the end of the trip when they entered Elliot Cut at idle speed. With the engines in neutral, they were making 9.3 knots just carried by the current though the narrow cut. With engines in idle, it made control of the vessel a little tricky as they floated towards Charleston. Thanks to Geoff’s training, our skipper was able to steer through bumping the engines rather than being a wheel weanie. When they popped out into the Ashley River, the marina was right there. All they had to do was find there docking assignment. They were put on the Mega Dock, so named because of some of the mega yachts tied up here in Charleston. Makes Still Waters II look like a canoe. Shore Excursions Provisioning seams to always be harder than it should. The crew needed a few items from the grocery store, so our skipper found a Piggly Wiggly only 2 miles away. As luck would have it, a condo development is being erected smack dab on top of the old Piggly Wiggly. A check of the map app, showed a Publix’s only 2 miles further down the road. So off in search of the new shop. Upon arrival, the goods were procured and the trip back on the bicycle was started. Somehow, the 4 mile round trip turned into a 10 mile trip with 4 large bridge crossings. Good thing the mate sat this trip out. She would not have been impressed. The mate took time to go walk down historic Charleston. She loves the old houses and churches. She wandered around for several hours in the historic section. She reported that the young girls were buying loads of stuff at some stores called “Forever 21” and “H&M.” Last bit of news today is a report of a little boat maintenance by the skipper. He had been warned of this nasty job and was not looking forward to its eventual completion. That’s right, time to change out the duckbill check valves. These little rubber parts just so happen to be in the sewer line from the head to the holding tank. It just does not get any nastier than that. A couple of hours latter, the duckbills were changed out and the skipper was in need of a shower. A little history that our skipper must have forgotten. The H.L. Hunley was the very first submarine to sink a warship. Happened back on February 17, 1864 during the war of northern aggression. Within the hour she also sank here in the Charleston Harbor killing her 8 crew members. Interesting enough, but more intriguing is that this was her third sinking. She initially sank August 29, 1863 during sea trials, killing 5 crew members. She sank again on October 15, 1863, killing all 8 crew members, including Horace Hunley. She was found in 1995 and has been raised again in 2000 and is currently in a pool of water as restoration is in progress. Run deep, run silent. The crew hopes to get some good pictures of Ft Sumter tomorrow as they motor north to Georgetown.