There are two reasons we wanted to go to Ocracoke for three days. First, of course, we wanted to see what was there, learn more about Blackbeard (who was killed just off Ocracoke) and generally enjoy ourselves. Second, we wanted to test all the stuff that should make our time at anchor easier and less worrisome. I was especially hopeful that we had addressed both the “dragging” problem and the inverter issues.
At any rate we arrived at the Ocracoke Channel at about 2:30PM and moved right into the anchorage. When we dropped our anchor, I set my soon-to-be-patented “Brown’s Garmin Anchorage Gizmo” AND we set a new anchor alert app – called Drag Queen – on Ann’s Tablet. For those of you who were wondering, no, drag queen isn’t something kinky. You use it so you don’t “drag” your anchor. All of these appear to have worked very well. In fact, because I kept the tablet and Drag Queen beside my bed, every time I awoke, all I needed to do was look over and make sure we hadn’t moved too far. Heretofore, I had to get up, out of bed and check both our position and my Garmin Gizmo. Ok, I still got up once to check, but not as frequently as I have in the past. The result? I am confident that we will know when we are dragging and I may not have to spend quite so much time awake in the salon just waiting for us to drag.
The second issue we wanted to check was the DC – AC system electrical system. As some of you may recall, our inverter setup has been a curse for over a year. This year we had the guys at MTS look at it and make some suggestions. Those helped, but did not resolve the issue. The folks at Deltaville Boatyard also looked at it and suggested that we get new batteries, as they determined that ours were going bad rapidly. Now you might think that buying a couple of batteries wouldn’t be much of an issue. But these batteries are 8Ds. They are huge, they are heavy and they are expensive. I decided, though, that we would not only go for new batteries, but we would go for those near the top of the line, so we bought two Lifeline Batteries at over $500 each. The Boatyard people told us, we got a great “deal” (yea, right). Anyway they weigh 156 pounds each, are about 21” x 11” x 9”, and carry 255 amp hours each. Oh, and they are AGMs (Absorbed Glass Mat), that require absolutely ZERO maintenance. If you could see how I had to contort my body with my traditional wet cells – just to check the battery levels – well, you would understand how much I appreciate the new batteries. Anyway, over the three days we were anchored … drum roll please … they worked almost perfectly. We consumed about 6 – 8 amps per hour and the batteries delivered the appropriate power superbly. We want to be able to recharge within four hours and – well, it took them about 4.5, but we can work on that.
We also tried out our propane coffee maker. When we are anchored we try to conserve amps – but that doesn’t mean we don’t want coffee. So, last summer we bought a propane coffee maker. And you know what? It makes great coffee!
With one or two hiccups, all the other systems we use when we are anchored worked well also – the generator, the heads, etc. We haven’t checked the watermaker yet, we want to wait until we get to Florida before we “de-pickle” it and start using it again.
|The bikes we used to pedal the three miles to |
AND from the National Seashore
|Springer's Point. The place where Blackbeard |
lost his head -- literally.
Speaking of AARRGGHH!! Did you know that it was just off Ocracoke that Blackbeard, the famous pirate, met his maker? Yep, just off Springer’s Point, Blackbeard fought it out with Lt. Robert Maynard, a Royal Navy Officer, who commanded two armed sloops, Jane and Ranger. On 21 November, Maynard caught Blackbeard at one of his favorite anchorages, called Teach’s Hole (Blackbeard’s real name is thought to be Edward Teach). According to many sources, after the ships exchanged several volleys of cannon fire, Blackbeard appeared to have the upper hand. Maynard ordered his men below. When the smoke from the cannons cleared and Blackbeard saw very few men on the decks of Maynard’s ships he figured that most of them were dead. At that point he determined to board the ships and take them as prizes. Alas, when Blackbeard’s men hit the decks of the Ranger, Maynard’s men poured onto the decks. Though Blackbeard fought like a Banshee – he was allegedly shot five times and stabbed or cut twenty times – the pirates lost. Because there was a price on Blackbeard’s head and because killing Blackbeard was a political issue back home, Maynard needed positive identification. If this had happened in the twentieth century, Lt Maynard would probably have taken fingerprints or DNA for analysis. In those days, however, these hi-tech identification systems did not exist. Since Maynard did not want to have a rotting corpse on board he faced something of a dilemma; what to do, what to do? Well he used the eighteenth century version of positive ID. He cut off Blackbeard’s head and displayed it on his bowsprit.
|The memorial just outside the British cemetery on Ocracoke.|
There are some other interesting tidbits about Ocracoke. In 1942, HMS Bedfordshire, a British trawler that had been converted to a submarine chaser was sunk while hunting German U-boats in the Atlantic. Over the next several days the bodies of four crewmen were discovered on or around Ocracoke Island. They were all buried in a small plot near the village. However, British law says that English soldiers or sailors killed in war must be buried on British soil. As a consequence, the US Government leased the small cemetery to the British government in perpetuity – making it virtually British territory.
We left Wednesday morning, but will probably be back in the spring. It was a really nice place and we haven’t seen it all yet. The trip back across the Pamlico Sound wasn’t quite as choppy as it was when we came across, but it wasn’t a smooth one either. Anyway, we re-joined the ICW and had already decided to spend two nights at River Dunes Marina (two nights for the price of one). We arrived about 1PM.
We had heard of River Dunes years before when the real estate market was doing well and they were selling houses around a marina. They are still doing the same thing, but the housing market seems to have taken a back seat to their marina. It was a very nice marina. They have a courtesy car that took us into Oriental, North Carolina – which, according to the Chamber of Commerce is the sailing capital of North Carolina (about which, more below) – a swimming pool (but it was far toooo cold to partake), a “kind-of” restaurant. Let me explain these a little more:
· The weather was coooold. In fact, I put on my sweat pants over my shorts. I even put on socks. I know, I know – heresy. As many of you know, I swore I would never wear long pants again (unless, of course, it was cold). Even Ann was cold. That is a history-making event.
· Having a courtesy car is great. But, at River Dunes, you have to reserve the car a day before and you could only use it for two hours at a time. It took about 30 minutes to get from the marina to Oriental, NC the only town in the neighborhood. So that meant you only had an hour to run around Oriental – which looked like a cool place to explore. We only had time to go to the hardware stare, the grocery store and to stop by a sandwich shop for a take-out. We drove back into the marina after we had the car for one hour and 58 minutes, which was 2 minutes early. And the next signee was there ready to go.
· The “restaurant” served had only one listing on their menu – chili – along with a salad and cookies for desert. The only the reason meal was worth the cost ($12) was the opportunity to meet other people. Although we met several, the ones we liked most were Karsten and Peg aboard their Selene trawler, Duet. They have been up and down the ICW for the last 17 YEARS. We have a lot to learn from them.
· The River Dunes Community seems almost a cult. There are certainly several cliques within. People who bought back when it made sense to do so are convinced that they will make their money back and then some. Maybe. If they enjoy the development, I wish them well. But if they bought their property as an investment … well … I think they would have done better in the stock market.
Before I turn things over to Ann, I know some of you have asked how to track our progress. There is site associates with our AIS that will tell you where we are AS LONG AS THE RADIO AND WE HAVE THE AIS ON. Now we do not keep it on all the time. I fact, when we usually only have it on while we are moving. But if you would like, you can check the following site to see what you can see.
Well, that’s about all for now. I’ll let Ann tell you about our first dolphin sighting for the season and all the other things that she wants to say.
Next time we will report on our trips to St. James Marina, Butler Island and Georgetown, SC.
Ann’s Notes: I must admit that Michael is correct in telling you that it was cold outside. As the anchor goddess I need to be outside while bringing up the anchor. I have to tell you that I could not feel my hands after ten to fifteen minutes outside…the water temperature was warmer than the air temperature. We are slowly moving into warmer weather. I think that is good until it get too hot and humid and then I won’t like it all that much. I am still trying to talk Michael into cruising to Maine in the summer months. I have to tell you that I think he is starting to `give in`. We have talked to several other cruisers that say it is beautiful and a must see….maybe …just maybe…we may go and explore the towns and coastline.
Poor little Belhaven, NC. At one time I am sure it was a busy town, and, though they are trying to make a comeback, they have a long way to go. I wish them well. They are even closing the local hospital. It is right on the water and it has been flooded so many times that they have closed already several wings. Now they have a terrible mold problem and the whole building has to been torn down it is so bad. That means many jobs will be lost, they have no plan to rebuild.
I loved Oracoke Island NC, the weather was perfect and there was so much to explore. When we were visiting our daughter Lisa in Twenty-nine Palms, CA we went to Joshua Tree National Forest. While there I bought a National Parks Passport. The deal is that you visit the parks and you get a stamp in the pass port; it’s just a fun thing to do. Well … I got the passport stamped in Oracoke since they are part of the National Seashore. I have many more stamps to go and many more places I need to return to, I think it is fun…Michael thinks I am a bit crazy…but that is why he loves me. I keep him on his toes but making him take me places.
The “twins” aka our engines are humming along nicely. All other systems are making Michael happy. As long as they keep the fridge running and my fans running when I need them…I am also happy.
I am going to add `Quotes from the Water` to my wild live count. While traveling we have to radio on to listen to alerts and to call the bridge tenders. Actually it is also like the old fashion party line telephones and we hear some funny conversations from time to time that I would like to share with you.
· Saturday 19 October 2013 First DOLPHINS !!!! 2 Dolphins in Pamlico Sound
· Wednesday 22 October 2013 Oracoke NC 2 Dolphins
Quotes from the Water
Obnoxious captain in a sports fishing boat going very fast in the channel in Norfolk, asking us to `MOVE OVER, YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHANNEL` Michael response was we are not in the middle, we are hugging the red buoys. Obnoxious captain reply ... `It is all a matter of perspective`….no not really we were following the makers.
A large 65 foot cruiser …a voice over to radio with a strong Italian accents says..”Going to pass you, but don`t worry I will-a not-a make-a a wake-a for you.” He said that to every boat he passed for several miles. Reminded me of “No soup for you.”
New word from Oracoke … “Dingbatters” …. look it up on the computer.
Thank you for reading…