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.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Elizabeth City to Manteo

The Prequel

It was Friday, October 26 and there I was, navigating through a particularly byzantine channel just off the ICW and slightly north of Beaufort, North Carolina when I realized that we were on the wrong side of the channel markers. I immediately tried to turn back into the channel, but before I could get there, I heard the bump, the grind and the other unforgettable sounds of the hull getting hung up on the earth; we were aground. I tried moving backward, forward and all the other standard remedies. Nothing. I called the marina and told them we would be a little late, then I called TowBoat US (kind of a AAA for the boating crowd) and gave them our position and prepared to be rescued.

Little did I know, however, that that lovely my wife was on Facebook telling everyone what had happened. I mean my god, she could have at least waited until I made up a good excuse ... er … I mean until I determined the exact cause of this unfortunate incident. As you know, the National Transportation Safety Board can take years to determine the cause of accidents. I mean, while I am no fan of our current president, I sympathize that sometimes reportage gets ahead of the truth – or at least the truth as I want it to be known.

Again, however, I am afraid I am ahead of myself. Before I give you the detailed explanation of what happened and why, I need to discuss some other aspects of our trip.

After Elizabeth City

In our last entry we left you after touring Elizabeth City, the “Harbor of Hospitality”. After Elizabeth City we decided to go to Manteo, NC on Roanoke Island. To get there, we had to traverse the eastern half of Albemarle Sound. Although the afternoon part of the journey was okay, I must admit that the beginning was a little rolly. Everyone did okay, though, and we got to Roanoke Island without any real problems. Maneuvering through Shallowbag Bay, which is the area just in front of Manteo, however, was bit tricky as it is getting increasingly shoal every year. Nevertheless, we got into the marina with very little difficulty.

There seem to be two geographical areas of tourism on Roanoke Island, one in the north near the original fort, and the other in the center near the town of Manteo. The problem is that these two areas are 5-6 miles apart. That’s not a problem if you have a car, but on foot 5-6 miles is quite a walk. Needless to say we didn’t make it to the northern area of the island, and stayed near the town.

For those of you not as steeped in North Carolina history as I am (after all, I attended 6th and half of 7th grade in Fayetteville), Roanoke Island is the site of the first English colony in America, before Plymouth and before Jamestown. It is the location of the famed “Lost Colony” and is the birthplace of the first child of English descent born in America, Virginia Dare. Or, to be more verbose, as Wikipedia does

Roanoke Island was the site of the Roanoke Colony an English settlement initially established in 1585 by Sir Walter Raleigh group of about 120 men, women and children arrived in 1587. Shortly after arriving in this New World, colonist Eleanor Dare, daughter of Governor John White gave birth to Virginia Dare She was the first English child born in North America. Governor White returned to England later that year for supplies. Due to impending war with Spain, White was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived, the colony had vanished. The fate of those first colonists remains a mystery to this day and is one of America's most intriguing unsolved mysteries. Archaeologists, historians, and other researchers continue to work to resolve the mystery.

While in Manteo we did some shopping and had good dinner at Avenue Waterfront Grille and also to the Manteo Island Festival Park. There, they had a few interesting Native American exhibits, a couple of costumed English tradesmen plying their trades and a replica of the Elizabeth II, the ship that carried the colonists to the New World. We spent most of our time on the Elizabeth II. It was a 69’ vessel that carried 50 colonists plus their provisions across the ocean – a journey that took three months. As a matter of comparison, Traveling Soul is a 52’ vessel carrying four people right now down the Intracoastal Waterway.  Just sayin’ …

After Manteo we anchored at the end of the Alligator-Pungo Canal. There is an anchorage there at the mouth of the Pungo River that is one of my favorite anchorages on the Waterway. It has great holding and provides some protection from the east and the north. One reason I like the anchorage so much is that if there is serious weather, you can go further up the river and get protection from all sides.

We weighed anchor and proceeded to Beaufort, NC. Between us and Beaufort, however, was a large chunk of Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River. Was it rolly? Was it bumpy? Well, you will have to ask Dave or Joan because Ann and I thought it was just one of those things. Even Spot decided that hiding under a blanket was sufficient, rather than hiding under the table like she does with serious wind and waves. Besides it didn’t last for more than an hour or two, then we turned so the seas were pushing us forward, i.e. we had following seas.

After the unfortunate grounding incident – about which I will say more later – we arrived in Beaufort, NC. Beaufort NC is pronounced BOW-fort, in contrast to Beaufort, SC which is pronounced BYOU-fort. While in Beaufort we had two lunches out. One of the places was recommended by the dockmaster, it was called the Black Sheep and had a nice beet salad (at least that is what Ann told me, I personally, hate beets) , and some of the best thin crust pizza I have had in a long time (to that I can personally attest because I LOVE pizza). The other, which shall remain nameless (only because I can’t remember the name) was, at best so-so.

We also did a lot of browsing in the shops – with one exception. Ann, as many of you know is an accomplished chef who loves her olive oil. There is an olive oil store in Beaufort that we had to visit two or three times to get the correct oils and the proper containers for her to cook such wonderful meals.

A shot of the Olive Oil Store In Beaufort
We also went to the Beaufort Museum. The museum is pretty good. It focuses on findings from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. In 1996, archaeologists discovered the ship in shallow water about a mile offshore near the Beaufort Inlet, so Beaufort has first dibs on the artifacts. We also took a tour of the city and got a chance to see a bunch of old houses (still in use). Some were “Sears” houses, which you could order out of the catalog and would be delivered, with instructions, on the train. From the look of the houses, they gave much better instructions for putting together houses than Ikea and others do today. We actually saw one house that brought together several of the Beaufort themes. Apparently in the 1950’s or 60’s Sears painted a house on Beaufort with their famous “Weatherbeater” paint. They chose Beaufort because it was on coastal North Carolina and they could leave it there for several years and show how well the paint held up through hurricanes and all the other inclement weather the sea can offer. At some point, apparently, Sears got tired of waiting so they brought in big fans, hired the local fire department and made their own “hurricane.” When it they ran the ad, Sears said it held up in hurricanes and referred to the house as Blackbeard’s old house.

Okay, now I will explain that for which most of you have been waiting. It is true that we went aground just outside the ICW on the way to our marina in Beaufort. For those of you who don’t know, in boating it is said there are two kinds of boaters: those who have been aground and liars. At least I am not a liar. How bad was it? Well, while this certainly isn’t the first time we have bumped the bottom or even stalled on the ground, it the first time in nearly 20 years of boating that have I called TowboatUS, so that means we paid $2800 for this tow. And do you know what? The membership is worth every penny. The TowboatUS Captain was young but very professional. He knew what he was doing.

Now my crack “Grounding Investigator” (moi) has analyzed several different possibilities for this grounding.

1.       On this voyage, Dave and Joan are acting as additional crew for Traveling Soul. They are fairly green and had never been aboard a grounded vessel, at least not a grounded Traveling Soul. If I need to, I will swear that I was simply trying to train the crew in the proper processes and procedures when grounded. That would mean that this was no accident; it was a well planned and executed training event. The fact that everyone thought it was real is testament to how well it was planned and executed.

2.       While he has been a member of BoatUS for 20 years or so and had never used the membership. He just wanted to see if everything would work as advertised. It did.

3.       The markers in this area are so screwed up and difficult to interpret that it is amazing more people don’t run aground. My award should read that “at great personal risk and with extraordinary courage he determined to challenge the authorities and show them how much dredging is needed.” Rather than be shunned, I should be awarded the Cruiser’s Cross (or some other appropriate award) so the authorities will do something about the markers.

4.       Or perhaps my favorite … Did you know Blackbeard grounded his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge just outside the Beaufort Inlet (it was just discovered in 1996)? I was just trying to get the full “pirate experience” by grounding Traveling Soul.

5.       With extraordinary stupidity I took my eyes off the markers that I was following and began focusing on where I was to dock. In the process I missed the (admittedly small) green markers marking the channel.

Since I have eliminated explanation 5, you can see my crack investigator (moi) determined that notwithstanding anything you may see on Facebook, I WAS NOT AT FAULT. And that is all I am going to say about that.

 Continuing the Story

One of the excellent displays at the Maritime Museum
of North Carolina in Southport, NC
After Beaufort we anchored for a night in Mile Hammock Bay and headed for Southport, NC. Enroute to Southport there are three bridges, the Surf City, Figure Eight and Wrightsville Beach Bridges that open on a schedule that defies any logic. It is absolutely impossible to make any kind of decent time through the three of them. I have asked my classmates, some of whom were professors of mathematics, some rocket scientists and one even a professor emeritus of engineering to calculate a schedule for making the bridges. No one has yet succeeded. I have detailed this conundrum in previous entries and won’t go say any more today. Except GRRR! Dame the state of North Carolina!

Okay, with that out of my system, I can tell you that we spent a day touring the lovely and historic city of Southport, NC. I had heard about the North Carolina Maritime Museum of Southport and had long wanted to check it out. It wasn’t very big and didn’t have as many artifacts as I would have liked, but it told the maritime story of Southport fairly well … at least through the Civil War. Then it kind of petered out. It seemed to say, “and in the 20th Century there were a couple of more wars. The End.” I guess any museum has to choose its focus and theirs was clearly the pre-revolutionary, revolutionary and Civil War maritime histories of Southport.

We also visited Fort Johnson and the Visitors Center which are one in the same. There, there was very little discussion of Fort Johnson and a lot of pictures of Southport through the ages. We checked out a few stores, then headed back to the boat. Later that evening, we had our friend Jim Treadwell over and all went out to dinner. Jim had been an underclassman in my company at West Point and later became my company executive officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. Ann had remembered that last time we came through Southport and met Jim and his wife Bess,we had gone to dinner at a place called “Fishy, Fishy Cafe.” Actually, what she remembered was their “Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon with Maple Glaze.” It was scrumptious a year ago and was scrumptious this year. Speaking of scrumptious, one of our new crewmembers, Dave Wolf, has asked to discuss scrumptiousity and our Chief Chef, Ann.

Dave’s Notes:

Thanks, Mike…Mike has often blogged about the great food on Traveling Soul.  I thought I would take a minute and review what we’ve dined on so far on our trip.  Here is a summary of the menu we have enjoyed since we left Maryland:

·       15 October:  Reuben Sandwiches (a tradition of ours to have Reubens  when we start a trip);
·       16 October:  Chicken and Carrots (another boat tradition);
·       17 October:  Ribs cooked on the grill with cole slaw and beans; Mike cooked half way on the grill
·       18 October:  Pork Chops stuffed with spinach and goat cheese (unbelievable);
·       19 October:  we dined out at Amber Lantern;
·       20 October:  Roasted chicken thighs with vegetables;
·      21 October:  Beef Stroganoff;
·       22 October:  Shrimp Bisque (this was a cool evening and begged for a great soup!);
·       23 October:  Spaghetti Bolognese with Italian sausages;
·       24 October:  dinner out in Manteo;
·       25 October:  Ribeye Steak on the grill with baked potato and salad; Mike grilled out
·       26 October:  Cornish Game Hens with stuffing and a side of roasted zucchini and squash;
·       27 October:  Rack of Lamb!  See photo…
·       28 October:  Shrimp ala “Homer Smith” and cole slaw (fresh shrimp right off the boat);
o   Mike’s note: Homer Smith’s is the name of the marina were we stayed AND the co-located Shrimp processing plant. We not only get the shrimp fresh, but at wholesale prices!
·       29 October:  Chicken Enchiladas ala Joan Wolf
·       30 October:  Ribeye Steak on the grill with tater tots (we are in the South);Mike grilled out
31 October: Shrimp Quiche (More of Homer Smith's shrimp!)

I think the above list gives you some idea of how well we eat on Traveling Soul.
One small portion of the hurricane damage we saw.

If I may delve into one more topic:  hurricane damage.  As we cruised past Elizabeth City and went deeper into North Carolina, we saw more and more examples of hurricane damage from Hurricane Florence.  As you might recall, Florence came ashore as a huge hurricane between North and South Carolina, then stalled, dumping many hundreds of inches of water on both the coastal and inland portions of this area.  It was followed up by the remnants of Hurricane Michael.  As we cruised down the ICW, it was amazing to see that some places were severely hit, while the house next door appeared to be untouched.  This view does not account, of course, for repairs that have already been made, but damage was pretty extensive in coastal North Carolina.  It will be interesting to see what South Carolina has suffered in terms of hurricane damage.

Ann’s Notes:  geez…Now I need to follow up after all the reading you have done already. I will try to make it semi-short.

We have had a good cruise so far, granted it has been on the cooler side of sunny at times. I can tell we are in the Carolinas by the amount of dark, sticky, smelly mud that is clinging onto every single link of our anchor chain. Hosing it off before it goes into our anchor locker can take an extra ten to fifteen minutes in the morning. You may be thinking…ok…no big deal … but when Captain Michael says… anchor up and underway by 7 or 7:30 …he means to keep that schedule. On my end, I just adjust the alarm clock to take into account all the other morning routines I do… get dressed, put in my left contact lens ( I only wear one -- mono vision works for me), put sun screen on, make the bed. Than the galley routine starts pour the coffee, have a little something for breakfast, listen to the weather report. Then it is time to go to the bow of the boat, take out and turn on the wash down hose, take a deep breath, put my foot on the windlass bottom and start to messy ordeal of cleaning the anchor chain, link by link. So… taking up 100 or 120 feet of chain, mostly covered in yucky mud can take a few minutes out of your morning. Michael and I have the routine down well and Big Bertha has held us faithfully, so she deserves my TLC .

Now…about the grounding and Facebook… if you are stuck, have good WiFi, time to kill while waiting for BoatUS to arrive and have loyal, concerned friends  that follow you…be honest…what would you do? You already know my answer… POST … day, time and Location… Just sayin’.

Spot, waiting for dolphins to appear
I want to thank Dave for reviewing the daily menu. Most of you know that I love to cook, have a wonderful stocked pantry and a  galley that has all the luxuries of home( but not a gas stove, I miss my gas stove when cruising). I did have to get a new Induction , mine broke just before we departed Solomons. I ordered a new and better one while underway, from Amazon , and had it delivered to Homer Smiths in Beaufort NC. That little cooktop is also a time saver in the morning. It can boil water in seconds for Dave’s morning tea and Joan’s oatmeal… it took several minutes to boil water in the microwave. Tick Tock…the Captain is waiting for Bertha to get her shower and get underway.

Thanks for following us…Blessings

Spot is well and enjoying her bird watching, dolphin watching activities.

Traveling Soul…OUT

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