Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Friday, December 15, 2017


It was cold in Saint Augustine, maybe the coldest day they had all year. Ann and I were on the transom, preparing to lift the dinghy. The wind was biting and when it hit our flesh it actually hurt. Our fingers were so stiff they were almost useless as we prepared to lift our dinghy to the upper deck. But all was right with the world because you see, the night before ARMY HAD BEAT THE HELL OUF OF NAVY IN FOOTBALL.  We not only beat them, we crushed them, we stomped on them, we destroyed them. Ok, maybe the score was 14-13 and maybe the fact that Navy’s kicker missed a field goal in the final seconds contributed to our victory, but in Army-Navy football a “W” is all that will go in the record books. Twenty years from now if you ask an Army football player what the team’s record was in his senior year, he might remember. If you ask him how the Bowl game went, he will probably remember the score. But when you ask him about the Army-Navy game he will be able to recount every play. Go Army, Beat Navy.
This Arctic Ranger was dressed appropriately for most of
our journey -- especially St. Augustine. it was c-c-c-cold!
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let me tell you what has happened since our last entry from beautiful Beaufort, SC. With few exceptions, we have been on the move almost constantly. We stayed one night each at Thunderbolt Marina, the anchorage at New Teakettle Creek, Brunswick Landing Marina, and the anchorage at Ft. George. We then stayed three nights on a mooring ball in St. Augustine on the last of which we watched ARMY BEAT THE HELL OUT OF NAVY! (You didn’t really think I got it out of my system in one paragraph did you?). We then spent one night each at the anchorages at Fort George, Rock House Creek and Palm Shores before we stopped at the marina at Ft. Pierce and finally, our destination at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Florida. Let me break it down a little.

Originally we had planned to anchor at an anchorage near the little town of Beaulieu on the outskirts of Savannah. But, on the way we had a little problem. I need to go back a little ways to explain what happened. You see, after they put the extra batteries in last year, the boat developed a slight list to port. You probably couldn’t notice it unless you were looking for it – but, of course I looked for it. I was talking to a friend that had a similar problem. He told me that he controls his list by controlling the amount of fuel he puts into his wing tanks, i.e. a little more fuel in the light side and a little less in the heavy side. It sounded like a good idea to me, so to find out how much fuel I should put in each tank, I ran an experiment. On the way to Beaufort, I set the system up so it would draw fuel from the port tank (the heavy side) to run the port engine and draw fuel from the aft tank to run the starboard engine (the light side). I would draw no fuel at all from the starboard tank. I would then check the list and see if how much fuel I would need to keep in each of the wing tanks to re-balance the boat. After there was about a 50 gallon differential between the starboard and port tanks, I put everything back to normal – or so I thought.

Now, in my own defense, I ask you to remember that I ran the experiment on the way to Beaufort, and we stayed in Beaufort for three days. About 2/3 of the way between Beaufort and Savannah, GA the starboard engine stopped. Originally, I had no clue what had happened. I knew I set up the fuel flow correctly and it had run just fine for a day or so before arriving in Beaufort, so I knew that couldn’t be the problem. In any event, we decided to go to Thunderbolt Marina. There, I would be able to get down in the engine room and figure out what the problem was. If I could not, the marina would know where I could get a decent mechanic. After I thought about it for a while though, I realized that it didn’t take a mechanical genius to figure out what had happened. I had screwed up. After a few trips to the engine room, I realized that we had simply run out of fuel in the port tank. As soon as I changed the draw from the starboard tank to the aft tank (and cranked the engine several times), the engine started right up. You see, each tank has both a “from” valve and a “to” valve. (Diesel engines draw more fuel than they need, then return the excess back to the specified fuel tank). Anyway, I had apparently left the valves in the position that was drawing from the starboard tank all right, but was returning it to the aft tank – which filled up the aft tank but drained the starboard tank. (If you were here right now, you would hear a deep wistful sigh, for this was another lesson re-learned. I had done something similar about four years earlier)

By the way, I know I spent way too much time on our little incident, but after I started I couldn’t stop. Then it became something of a challenge explaining what happened. But no, since I have a lot to cover, I’ll write a little faster.

Spot, watching the birds at New Teakettle.
After Thunderbolt, we anchored at New Teakettle Creek in Georgia. The area is full of great anchorages, but we stopped at New Teakettle for two reasons. First, it is a truly beautiful anchorage, especially if you like the Georgia low country as much as we do. You can see over the golden saw grass for miles, giving you the impression that you are the only people on earth. Additionally, there are all sorts of birds to entertain Spot. Her eyes and head follow them just like radar, just knowing that she could “take” them if given half of a chance. the Even more important, however, is the fact that about ten miles south of New Teakettle is a relatively small body of water called the Little Mud River. Little Mud can get VERY shallow at low tide – in fact it is about the only place on the ICW that really scares me. For that reason, we anchored at New Teakettle to catch the Little Mud at high tide early the following morning. Even then our depth finder showed only about six feet of water along the way, but we made it through without incident (we need 4.5 feet).

After New Teakettle we spent the night at Brunswick Landing Marina. We had intended to fill up with fuel (Brunswick Landing generally has the cheapest fuel in the area), but since we had taken on diesel at Thunderbolt – after my fuel tank faux pas – we just enjoyed a night plugged into electricity and water. From Brunswick we went to the anchorage at Fort George. Usually when we stop there we visit the National Historic Site at Kingsley Plantation, but this time we were just passin’ through.

After Ft. George we stopped and took a mooring ball at St. Augustine. We had been planning to stay at St. Augustine for three days specifically because we were sure we could find someplace to watch the Army-Navy game. Did I mention that Army beat the hell out of Navy? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Anyway, the first two days we explored the historic district of St. Augustine – as we have several times in the past – and prepared for the game. We also used the opportunity at St. Augustine to test out our dinghy, which we had not used for several months. Well, we got it started and it took us to and from the dinghy dock at the marina, but we learned that we needed to have the carburetor either cleaned or rebuilt. In fact, there was one scary moment when I was testing out the engine and it just stopped. Now, this can be a bit dangerous because with the currents in St. Augustine harbor, you are not going to be able to row against the current back to the boat. To make a long story short (yes, there is another “Dumbass Mike” story here, but to get it you will have to buy me a drink some evening), I managed to get the motor re-started and return to Traveling Soul.

To watch the Army-Navy game we usually avoid sports bars. Not only can they get noisy, but a lot of people would rather watch different games. So, unless we could get a personalized table and TV, we would be out of luck. Instead, we have learned we can go to Carrabas, a chain Italian restaurant with pretty good food, sit at their bar, eat a few appetizers and drink a few beers, and enjoy the game. This year we went at 2:00 (the game started at 3:00), got to know the bartender, assumed control of the remote and watched a game the results of which I guess I should not gloat quite so much. Anyway, it was a good game and we had a great time.

After St. Augustine, it was on to the anchorages at Rock House Creek and Palm Shores. It was smooth sailing to both locations with nothing very interesting to report. We then headed to the Fort Pierce City Marina. We were stopping because it had been a while since we had been to a marina and because we needed fuel. The good news is that, although expensive, the fuel we took on at Ft. Pierce was going to get us to the Bahamas and around the Abacos. Moreover, Ft. Pierce had the cheapest diesel we could find in southern Florida (from reports both the Waterway Guide and Active Captain). The bad news is that the terms “inexpensive” and “Southern Florida” are mutually exclusive. Let’s just say the fuel was VERY expensive and cost us a little over a Boat Unit ($1000).

At Ft. Pierce we renewed our acquaintance with David Jansen, the gentleman who a year ago found Spot in the furled sail of his boat Fifth Quarter. I think Ann will describe our encounter in more detail below.

On 13 December we finally arrived at our destination – Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, Florida. Here, we will relax for a few days, then leave the boat and drive up to Maryland/Virginia for Christmas, return to Old Port Cove in early January, provision the boat, and wait for a weather window in mid-January to head for the Bahamas.
Nik receiving his "first salute"
from his step-Dad,
Sergeant-Major Higgins
December 13th was also momentous for another reason. Our eldest grandson, Nikolas Applegate, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. It is interesting to note that, from this moment on, I will know more about what is happening to Nik than anyone else in the family. After his Basic Course and possibly other schooling, Nik will, presumably, become a rifle platoon leader in the Marine Corps. Although I was in the Army, I was also a rifle platoon leader – in the 82nd Airborne Division. Actually, I led several platoons in the division and was eventually an Airborne Infantry Company Commander – the Army equivalent of a position to which to which Nik will aspire once he figures out how the Marine Corps works. Anyway, Ann and I both want to send our congratulations to Nik as well as my daughter, Lisa, and son-in-law, David, for the manner in which they have raised this young man.  

A better picture or Nik and Dave
(Dave is the one with all the medals).
Ann’s Notes: At last we are in, what is supposed to be, warm and sunny Florida. It is actually rather chilly outside, though not as cold as it is in VA and MD. Michael didn’t mention the fact that we ran into some pretty heavy fog while traveling in GA. However, we have done the ICW more than a few times so I have many notes on my charts. Plus, we ran the radar and I had my binoculars glued to my eyes, so we did fine.

We stopped at one of my favorite anchorages, Rockhouse Creek, where I can see the Ponce de Leon light house shine at night. I truly love light houses.

I am going to back track to Beaufort S.C. where we linked up with our good friends Becky and Mark Covington on their boat Sea Angel. Becky and I had a wonderful girl’s day out. We went to a farmers market – that was actually a farmers market and not a craft fair. I bought some fresh vegetables, the most yummy blue cheese I have had in a long time, and a warm baguette. We then went into the beautiful little town of Beaufort, SC did some shopping and went out to lunch. The day was topped off with a trip to the new Walmart on Lady’s Island. All-in-all it was great to reconnect with a great cruising friend. Thank you Becky for making it a special day.

The picture on this blog is Spot with the gentlemen that found Spot in his sail last year when we were at Emerald Bay Marina. He recognized the boat name and asked how Spot was. We were busy filling up with fuel so I was rather distracted and didn’t recognize him. However, we think some good came out of Spot’s escape attempt; she will now wear a new tag while in the Bahamas. This one has her name on it, our boat name and our Bahamas phone number, just in case she sails away on another boat.

David Jenson, the an who saved Spot from a life
of servitude on his Catamaran Fifth Quarter last year after
her near escape from Traveling Soul
We are getting ready to pack up and drive back to VA/MD…let the Christmas celebration begin.
Congratulations to our first born grandson Nik and his new rank of Lieutenant in the Marine Corp … Semper Fi … Nik.

Maddy, our granddaughter, will be graduating  from ASU in the spring and hopefully enter a Veterinary College.
Trent will finish up his first year at ASU in the spring, he is following both his brother and sister as an ASU Sun Devil.

Michael and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year in 2018.

Traveling Soul…OUT

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Sun at Last!

Sun at last, sun at last, thank God Almighty, we have sun at last.
It was almost freezing at the marinas in Belhaven and Beaufort North Carolina. By the time we got to an anchorage just north of Charleston, it was almost warm. But it wasn’t until we arrived in beautiful Beaufort, SC that it was FINALLY warm enough to take off our sweaters. Getting to Beaufort, however is what this story is about, so let me go back to the beginning.

We left Beaufort, NC the day after Thanksgiving. We could barely walk after stuffing ourselves with Ann’s Thanksgiving meal, but we didn’t have to walk, we were on a boat and we were on our way to anchor at Mile Hammock Bay, which is just outside Camp Lejeune, NC. Mile Hammock is one of our favorite anchorages and we have stayed there a number of times. There is nothing to do, it is just a protected place to spend the night. There are usually at least a half-dozen boats with us and there have been as many as fourteen. This year, however, there was only one other boat – showing that we left Maryland later than we should have.
It was c-c-cold at Mile Hammock, but we do have reverse cycle air conditioning which can provide heat, so we turned on our NEW EXPENSIVE GENERATOR and the heat to take the cold bite out of the air. (Four years ago when our son was with us we seldom turned on the generator. We did that to show him how tough we were and to make him suffer (Shhh, don’t tell him.) Since he wasn’t with us this year, we turned everything on and were toasty warm. Anyway, in the morning when we got ready to turn on the engines the starboard engine went “Crank!” just like it should have. The port engine when “CR” … Oh oh, the engine didn’t start. Again it went “CR” ... again and “CR” … yet again. Since I had a similar problem last year, I figured (and hoped) it was the batteries. Luckily, I have a switch set up which allows me to put all six starting batteries to work starting either engine. After I threw the switch I heard the appropriate Crank! coming from the port engine. Yessss. Okay, the engine is now running. We went down the waterway a few miles and came to the marina where we had planned to get fuel (the lowest price on the ICW, by far). The question was, dare I stop the engine and have to start it again or do we just drive on and find a fuel stop later. Most of you know that I am both a cheapskate and gambler at heart, so we stopped … refueled … and the engine started right up again. Yesss.
Jim and Bess Treadwell as well as your truly and his OAO.

A few days prior to the engine incident I had been e-mailing with a friend of mine. Jim Treadwell was three years behind me at West Point, but was in the same company that I was. Moreover, he was a platoon leader and later the executive office of the company I commanded in the 82d Airborne Division. It turns out that, although Jim lives in Florida, he has a summer house in Ocean Isles North Carolina AND he was going to be there for a week or so around Thanksgiving. We had to link up. And we did.
Originally we were going to re-connect at St. James Marina, but we ended up going to Southport. Southport, you see, has mechanics just in case I would have needed them for my difficult-to-start engine. Anyhow, we met, had a drink, went to dinner and generally had a blast. As is so often the case with my West Point contemporaries and/or my former Army colleagues, our conversation started up where we left off 20 years ago. Ann, of course, knew Jim (but hadn’t seen him for 40+ years. Neither of us had met his wife, Bess, but when we did, we decided she was the perfect woman to keep Jim under control. It didn’t take much calculating … they have been married for 30+ years.

In addition to my toes (unintended) you can see
how difficult it is to check the vents without moving the cables.

While at Southport, I also gave the batteries a good once over. As you can see by the enclosed picture, many of the cables cover the vents and vent caps. To check the water and electrolyte level, I had to take off some of the cabling to get at the vents. It was a time consuming process. Since I did replace quite bit of water, I am assuming that it was, in fact, the batteries (plus the cold weather) that led to the slow start on the port battery. We didn’t need a mechanic after all, but I am glad we stopped at a place where we could have found one if needed.
Because we had lost two days at Top Rack waiting for the Albemarle to calm down, had lost a day at Beaufort to enjoy Thanksgiving, and had lost a day at Southport for our battery problem, we decided we would “pick up speed” for the next several days to get back on “schedule.” Actually, we do not have a schedule per se. We have the chart you can see below.  It tells us how many miles we have to go, the average number of miles we have to achieve and, most importantly, the number of 60 mile days we have in front of us (we generally travel around 60 miles per day when in the “move out” mode).

Night of
ICW Mile Marker
Miles covered
Miles to Destination
Days left
Avg miles Required per day
Number of 60 mile days left
Beaufort, NC
Mile Hammock
Beaufort, SC
Beaufort, SC
Beaufort, SC

The beautiful Enterprise Anchorage  off the Waccamaw
River in South Carolina
 Anyway, we spent the following three nights anchored first at what I call the Enterprise anchorage, and subsequently at the Adendaw and Toogoodoo anchorages (don’t you just love to say and spell “Toogoodoo?” We didn’t have any engine starting problems or any other kind of difficulties – other than the fact that they were pretty long days and it was damn cold outside. We cooked on the grill for the most part and enjoyed the wonderful (though chilly) South Carolina air. Oh, one note. Some of you know that we don’t have a satellite or any other special, expensive kind of TV system. We do have a regular old antenna-based system, however, just like you have when you were a kid – well, provided you are as old as Ann and I. Our old fashioned antenna cost $100 or so at our local West Marine store. I just want you to know that even in the middle of the South Carolina Low Country we could get some channels. Some locations had more than others, of course, but we always had ten or more. 

On 30 November we docked at Lady’s Island Marina in beautiful Beaufort, SC. We love Beaufort, it is a beautiful town with a lot to see and do, PLUS we have good friends here in the person of Captain Mark Covington and his wife Becky aboard their boat Sea Angel. Seeing them again was great – and the fact that they lent us their truck and went out to dinner with them was icing on the cake. We used the truck for a trip to Walmart, Publix, and the local hardware store, Grayco (one of Ann’s favorites).

Tomorrow we are on the way to St. Augustine. Yes, we will have several stops along the way, but we are looking forward to a few days at one of our favorite cities along the waterway AND to watching Army beat the hell out of Navy on 9 December. GO ARMY!

Ann’s Notes: This is the first entry on the blog I have done in a while…I was not fast enough for the first one Michael sent.
We had a busy summer full of doctors’ appointments, dentist appointments, a few medical procedures, a surgery on me, meeting neighbors at our condo and still settling in to our new home town of Solomons, MD. We were also busy preparing for our presentations at the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous. We had to drive there and stay at a hotel, that was not as much fun as going by boat, however both Michael and I did a good job and I am glad we went.

I am glad to be back on the waterway and heading south. One morning I went out to do my normal anchor job and there was a thin layer of ice on the bow and deck of the boat. Good thing I walk slowly, I was able to feel the difference on the deck and did not slip. At that point I had to agree with Michael that we needed to get further south.

Meeting old and new friends is such a blessing, we always meet the nicest people while we are on Traveling Soul.

I heard the cutest statement while we were at Top Rack Marina in Chesapeake, VA. This couple was on a forty-ish foot sail boat, their home port was somewhere in Canada and they were only at the marina to get fuel. The dock hand asked them where they were going, her response was wonderful…she said, “ I want to go south so my butter is soft in the morning” That really made me chuckle. And THAT is where we are going.

Thank you for following us.

Traveling Soul…OUT


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Underway Again

Well, here we are … underway again … finally!

As you can see it took It took us a while. We usually leave in mid-October right after the Hampton Snowbird Rendez-vous, but this year we had doctors' appointment after doctors' appointments. Then at the end of October, Ann had a surgical procedure and I had several injections to alleviate the pain in my legs. We ended up driving -- rather than boating -- down to the Rendez-vous and giving our presentations. This year both Ann and I gave presentations which both went very well.

We did not leave Solomons until 16 November and we have to be in West Palm Beach, FL by 15 December. It is easily doable, but we don’t have a lot of time to meander down the waterway and explore little towns and villages as we usually like to do.

Our first day on the water was almost perfect – a little cold, maybe, but otherwise just right. We left Solomons right on time at 0800, all the boat’s systems behaved as designed, the seas were fairly comfortable, and when we arrived, the anchorage at Fishing Bay was nearly empty and I was able to barbecue for the first time in several months. Barbecued ribs … Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm. All in all, it was almost a perfect day. Our second day, however, well, let’s just say it did not go quite so well.

That night the wind blew 15 – 20 knots as a “weak” cold front came through. That wasn’t so bad, but when we woke up that morning the wind was still blowing – not as hard as it had the night before, but hard enough to create two to three foot waves on the Bay. Now, 2-3 footers aren’t that bad and we have certainly handled much worse. However, these waves had a very short period and were on our beam for the first hour or so. The effect was to rock us from side to side. Ann and I were fine, if a little uncomfortable. Spot, however, couldn’t go to her favorite hidey-hole as we had used it for storage. Don't worry, she is looking for a new hideout.

Eventually, we turned south and the northerly winds were behind us, making for what are called “following seas,” and traveling was tolerable if not great. We refueled and moored at Top Rack Marina and decided to fix a few problems that we had noticed on the trip coming down. The first of these was the anchor chain which led to ... the GREAT CHAIN FIASCO.

The previous day – yes, the “almost perfect day” we had noticed that our anchor chain was all twisted and tangled. How exactly that happened I don’t know. Anyway, we decided that we should untwist and untangle the chain before we anchored again.  Well, one thing led to another and I accidently hit the "chain up" button on the windlass while my thumb was in the "untangle" mode. Yes, it hurt. A lot. No, I didn’t do any permanent damage. My thumb is black and blue and it is an even bet on whether or not I will lose my thumbnail, but I am still alive and kicking – with my thumb wrapped in a bandage.

That night, with my bad thumb and all, we decided to eat dinner at Amber Lantern, the restaurant associated with the marina. They used to allow free overnight docking to boats that ate in the restaurant. Too many people skipped out, however, and took the free dockage without eating the dinner. Now, they charge $35 per night, whether you eat dinner or not – still a pretty good deal.

The next two days can be summed up in one word: B-O-R-I-N-G.  Although the weather at the marina wasn’t bad, the winds and waves on the Ablemarle Sound were terrible. We decided we would stay in our slip for another couple of days. The problem is that there is absolutely nothing to do anywhere near the Top Rack Marina – nothing nada, zip – so we pretty much stayed on the boat for two days. As I said: B-O-R-I-N-G.

On the morning of 20 Nov, we were off … again. We timed the Great Bridge Lock and the subsequent bridges perfectly. The weather predictions were right and the Ablemarle Sound was as calm as we have seen in twelve crossings. Finally, life was good again! We spent the night at anchor in South Lake just off the Alligator River. Like an idiot I forgot to take a picture, but the water was mirror-calm and there were four sailboats silhouetted against a setting sun. It was really beautiful!

Now, here is one of the problems caused by the delay we suffered at Top Rack. We arrived at River Forest Marina in Belhaven, NC on Tuesday. We have stopped in Belhaven for three of the past the four years for one reason and one reason only – Spoon River Artworks and CafĂ©. I know it sounds like an art studio, but it is not. It is one of the best restaurants on the ICW; it competes with any of the good restaurants in DC. I could go on, but I won’t – because there was a problem; Spoon River is closed on Tuesday. I know, right? Well we actually knew that going in, but there was an up and coming restaurant that we wanted to try – the Tavern at Jack’s Neck. What we didn’t know was the BOTH of them are closed on Tuesdays. YIKES! Ok, so we were very disappointed, but the assistant marina manager told us that a place called “Fish Hooks” was open and had very good food – especially fried chicken. Now those of you who know me well, know that I LOVE fried chicken. So, disappointed as I was, we went to Fish Hooks. I was determined to have fried chicken.

The Galley where the magic takes place
They don’t serve fried chicken the evening, only for lunch. WHAT? What kind of a rinky-dink place was this that didn’t serve fried chicken for dinner? Distraught, I ordered some kind of honey-mustard chicken. It was terrible. So, we are going to think very hard about going to Belhaven the next time we cruise through -- especially if it is a Tuesday. Instead, we may have to try a bunch of different restaurants on the Waterway until we find a new favorite J.

The day before Thanksgiving we arrived in Beaufort, NC (pronounced BOW-fort). It is now Thanksgiving Day and we have just had Thanksgiving Meal. Now some of you may be thinking that we don’t get a holiday meal on a boat. Boy, would you be wrong, especially with Chef Ann Brown on board. We had:
·         Turkey (okay, it was not a while turkey, just a leg – but who wants breast mean anyway)
·         Stuffing (It was really good!)
·         Gravy
·         Green Bean Casserole
·         Mac and Cheese (My favorite dish of all time!)
·         Apple Crisp

For us, that’s about as traditional as it gets!

Ah ... it is eatin' time
I am going to try and get this out tonight as the Redskins are looking just as bad as the Giants are (What would Thanksgiving be without football?) We leave early tomorrow to head for Mile Hammock Bay -- an anchorage near Camp Lejeune.